Stomp at the Ambassadors Theatre in London


Previewed 24 September 2002, Opened 25 September 2002, Closed 23 September 2007 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London
Previewed 27 September 2007, Opened 4 October 2007, Closed 7 January 2018 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London

The long-running music and dance show Stomp in London with a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy.

What does the word Stomp make you think of? Music, Dance, Theatre, Choreography or Performance Art? All of the above! Or is it none of the above. Well, both are sort of right... in a way. Confused? read on... Stomp is a movement, of bodies, objects, sounds - even abstract ideas. But what makes it so appealing is that the cast uses everyday objects, but in non-traditional ways. There's no speech, no dialogue, not even a plot. So why go see this show? Well, have you ever composed a symphony using only matchbooks as instruments? Or created a dance routine based around sweeping? You may have done this a little, but get a group of rhythmically gifted, extremely coordinated bodies with definitive personalities, and you have the makings for Stomp.

You're mistaken if you look for a hidden message in the show. There are no political connotations, no pretentious techniques, and no dialogue to misconstrue. Instead, you're bombarded by noises that you usually try to block out. Stomp takes the everyday sounds of pipes and brooms, lighters and garbage pail lids, and creates the extraordinary. Created by the original UK cast: Luke Cresswell, Nick Dwyer, Sarah Eddy, Theseus Gerard, Fraser Morrison, David Olrod, Carl Smith and Fiona Wilkes. Directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas.

"For one hour and 40 minutes, this breathtakingly energetic troupe of dancers turn everything they can lay their hands on into impromptu sets of drums which they smash as hard and as loudly as humanly possible. Brooms, matchboxes, oil drums and car wheels were just some of the items which became cacophonous instruments in a series of astonishing feats of rhythm. Yes, it's all there including the kitchen sink... I found Stomp just a teensy weensy bit boring... The dancing is brilliant, the startlingly innovative choreography at times dazzling. Dangerous even. But in the end it was just eight tap dancers on a building site-style set constantly playing the drums on differing surfaces." The Daily Mirror

"The show has been going for some 11 years now, and so has lost the element of surprise, yet it still feels fresh. This is partly because the cast perform with such vigour and infectious good humour, but it is partly because of the very nature of the piece. With each passage, the performers find some way of coaxing sound out of an unpromising object, and each sound prompts dance. So they remind us how basic rhythm is to life, but they also demonstrate a childlike ability to see new possibilities in household and industrial detritus... There is a wealth of references here for those who want to collect them. At one point the performers clash broomsticks like Morris dancers, at another they brandish them as in a war dance. They slap their legs like Bavarian folk-dancers, patter their toes like tap- dancers, and scatter sand on floor to do a soft-shoe shuffle... But much of the appeal is from the sheer pleasure of invention: the unusual thought that you can get a tune by squeaking rubber gloves on a metal sink; the unexpectedly gentle notes that can be spun from a set of empty water containers. And the dexterity, precision and energy of the performers is very engaging. It's not Mozart, but it is fun - and it is disconcertingly infectious." The Financial Times

"More than ten years after Stomp clattered on to the stage and took off around the world, it is making its West End debut. I can see what the fuss was about - Stomp makes a noise using the most mundane objects. It begins quietly, when a street sweeper discovers, to his delight, that a brush is also a percussive instrument, the bristles 'shush' and the handle taps. Then he is joined by another sweeper, and another until there are eight, all adding grunts and stamps to the shushing and tapping, creating an ingenious orchestra. The second number makes music out of matchboxes; the next conjures an astonishing range of sounds from just two hands clapping, now sweaty, now dry. And so it goes on. Using piping, boxes, dustbins - all the debris, junk, clutter and litter of urban life - this talented gang shake, rattle and roll out a glorious cacophony." The Mail on Sunday

"Stomp is, as it has ever been, a raw celebration of the rhythm of life as lived at pavement level. Did I say raw? If anything, Stomp is getting too darn slick for its own good. There was a time when the show looked like a set of possibilities; a blueprint for a new style of performance. Now Stomp is set in aspic. Yes, it has been refined to the nth degree, the syncopations are more audacious than ever... but a cheese sandwich is still a cheese sandwich, no matter how much relish you pile on the side... What the show has not lost is its demotic throb; its sense of 'do try this at home'. Every routine makes you want to join in, to participate in the bish-bash-boshing throng. Stomp is, absolutely, the People's Performance." The Sunday Times

Stomp - a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy, was created in Brighton, UK, in the summer of 1991. It was the result of a ten year collaboration between its creators, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. They first worked together in 1981, as members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger and the theatre group, Cliff Hanger. Together, these groups presented a series of street comedy musicals at the Edinburgh festival throughout the early 1980s. Pookiesnackenburger also produced the highly acclaimed 'Bins' commercial for Heineken lager. The piece was originally written and choreographed by Luke as part of the band's stage show... it proved to be the starting point for Stomp's climactic dustbin dance. In 1986, Luke and Steve then created an eight minute 'percussive movie' for Bette Midler's television special Mondo Beyondo. In 1991 Steve and Luke first created Stomp, previewing at London's Bloomsbury Theatre and premiering at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, where it became the Guardian Newspaper's 'Critic's Choice' and won the Daily Express 'Best of the Fringe' award. Following this the original cast of Stomp played at various venues around the world: from Hong Kong to Barcelona, from Dublin to Sydney. This then culminated in a sell-out season at London's Sadler's Wells theatre in January 1994, where Stomp received an Olivier nomination for 'Best Entertainment' and won 'Best Choreography in a West End Show'. The production transferred to New York where it began it's run at the Orpheum Theatre in February 1994 quickly went on to win both an Obie and a Drama Desk award for 'Most Unique Theatre Experience'. The show enjoyed a season at London's Royal Festival Hall in 1995 and a couple of years later a season at the Roundhouse Theatre in Camden, North London in 1998. During the late 1990s Stomp was featured in a number of commercials while 'Brooms', a fifteen minute short film based around the opening routine, was nominated for an Academy Award. In March 1996 an original piece involving both classic film clips and live onstage action was performed at the Academy Awards. Since then a 45 minute television special called Stomp Out Loud has been created as well as a special IMAX movie titled Pulse. The stage show then finally made it into London's West End when it opened at the Vaudeville Theatre in September 2002, playing up to 2007 when it transferred here to the Ambassadors Theatre - it's current 'West End' home.

Luke Cresswell is a self-taught percussionist from Brighton, UK. His session work as a drummer and rhythm programmer includes Norman Cook, Bette Midler, Elvis Costello, and Bryan Ferry. Steve McNicholas, from Yorkshire in the UK, has worked as an actor/ singer/ musician/ writer with various theatrical and musical groups, starting out with the Bradford Theatre group in 1973. As a singer he was an original member of the Flying Pickets. TV work includes Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean.

Stomp previewed from 24 September 2002, opened on 25 September 2002, and closed on 23 September 2007 at the Vaudeville Theatre in London before transferring to the Ambassadors Theatre, previewed from 27 September 2007, opened 4 October 2007, and closed on 7 January 2018.