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The Indiana Daily Student

arts iu auditorium performances

'STOMP' nearly sells out IU Auditorium with performance Saturday night

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The audience filled the IU Auditorium with laughter and applause Saturday night after the performance by “STOMP,” an off-Broadway theatrical group which plays percussion with unconventional instruments. At times, only the sawdust between the eight cast members’ shoes and the stage floor was used to make the group’s signature rhythm which ended IU Auditorium’s first 2024 show in a mass standing ovation. 

STOMP” was created during the summer of 1991 in Brighton, England by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, who still direct the show today. The percussion performance had a 29-year run in New York City’s Orpheum Theatre with touring casts since the mid-1990s. “STOMP” has made several visits to the IU Auditorium, spanning over a decade and still nearly sells out IU’s 3,200-seat auditorium.  

Saturday night's show was IU freshman Tessa Wittenbaum’s first shift as a student manager. Wittenbaum is from Cincinatti, Ohio studying art management and was excited to share that everything ran smoothly.  

“When we got our sheets for the night, there was red all over, which means this was pretty much a sold-out show,” said Wittenbaum. “We had over 3,000 people in the house tonight, which is great.” 

The two-story set resembled a junk yard or well-loved work garage, constructed out of steel panels, street signs, trash cans and tire rims among many other odds and ends. Bloomington native Steven Gornall was a few feet away from the stage, sipping an Upland Brewing Company beer just minutes before the show’s 8 p.m. start time. 

“I love live entertainment, so the closer the better,” said Gornall. “I love percussion. When I watch live music, I spend a lot of time watching the drummer or the percussionist. That’s what intrigued me about this show. I love to watch people who are talented.”  

This was Gornall’s first time watching “STOMP” perform, although he said he’s been an avid fan of the IU Auditorium venue.  

The show began with a trademark “STOMP” rhythm created with brooms. The cast – wardrobed in streetwear-style clothing, distressed denim and work boots – utilized not only the bristled broom heads, but the end of the wooden broom sticks to create a percussion sound, throwing and exchanging brooms across stage to other performers in the choreographed act.  

The “STOMP” performance included the use of countless non-traditional instruments throughout the nearly two-hour show: grocery carts, suitcases, innertubes, accordion pipes and even copies of Bloomington’s Herald-Times newspaper. 

In one act, four male cast members came on stage with industrial steel sinks holstered over their shoulders with chains. The men wore traditional yellow rubber gloves to create squeaky noises against the steel sink sides that they held. With various cups, dishes and pans of water in the sink, they created a percussion ensemble. They ended the act by emptying the water-filled sinks into buckets to comedically resemble men standing at a row of urinals.  

Cast members often led the crowd in their own clapping and stomping percussion throughout the night’s performance. 

More than just auditory, the performance was also visual, including comedic non-verbal interactions between cast members. There was also an act created using only Zippo lighters in the darkened auditorium. The audience could watch as the flame from each lighter travelled down the line of performers while simultaneously hearing the rhythm made from each spark.  

For IU alum Lesley Levin, this was the third time she had seen a “STOMP” performance. After the end of the show, she sat on a bench outside of the auditorium as the crowd was filing out.  

“Each show is a little bit different,” said Levin. “It’s been about 20 years since I saw the original show on Broadway. It’s fun, it’s very interactive with the audience. Tonight’s show was excellent.”  

The Bloomington performance was just one stop in the “STOMP” North American tour, which began in October and will conclude in mid-June this year.

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