‘Stomp’ into Boone
The stage show, “Stomp,” began in England in the 1990s, and its popularity has grown worldwide since.
The percussive tour-de-force has been performed at the Orpheum Theater in New York City steadily since 1994.
The show features a troupe of characters hanging out on some city streets and finding ingenious ways to produce rhythms with everyday items, such as cigarette lighters, brooms, trashcans, wooden poles, hubcaps and many other objects.
The musical, which has been performed in more than 40 countries, will fill the stage of the Shaefer Center for the Performing Arts at Appalachian State University this Tuesday night, March 4. The program begins at 8 p.m., and tickets are $38 for general admission and $18 for ASU students.
Playing the role of the “musical and laconic” Ringo in this nationally touring production of “Stomp” is Mike Hall. Hall, who has performed in the show for three years, was inspired by “Stomp” when he saw it as a kid in his native Indiana.
Hall was a trained drummer and percussionist who competed in band competitions while in high school and college. The cut-off age for competitive indoor drumline competitions, however, was 23 years of age. So, when Hall hit that milestone, he found himself looking for other work. But word soon came that the traveling production of “Stomp” was looking for new performers.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I’ll probably never perform again,’” Hall said about his last drumline competition. “Then, lo and behold, my brother shoots me a text message saying, ‘‘Stomp’ is having auditions. I think you should try out.’
“That was literally the day after my last finals performance. The audition was in New York, and he flew me out because I was a broke bartender at the time. So, he was like, ‘Hey, I’ll buy your plane ticket. If you make it, you can pay me back. If you don’t make it, don’t worry about it.’ I’ve paid him back.”
Hall didn’t really prepare for the “Stomp” audition per se, but instead decided to use his well-honed percussive skills to bring some organic energy to the process.
“I had a lot of fun and was smiling the whole time,” Hall said. “I felt like that is what helped me get in because I was showing them an ‘I can do this, and I can have a lot of fun while I’m doing it’ kind of vibe. They teach you the basic hands and feet groove, and they are basically seeing how fast you can learn something on the spot, because in the ‘Stomp’ world, that is the key to being really successful. They want you to be able to pick up something and adapt to it immediately as opposed to, ‘Hold on. I need to practice this.’ That was always my thing in the drumline world. I could hear a lick and then I could play the lick without anyone teaching me. I’ve got the ears for it, and that is where being in (high school) band really helped me.”
Two months after the audition date, Hall got the call that told him he was in the cast. Since then, his journey with “Stomp” has been an adventure.
“It is a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Hall said. “I’ve always wanted to travel like this, and, now that I get to do it as my job, it works out really well. (My favorite part) is a number towards the end of the show, called ‘Bags.’ It’s basically just myself and the two female performers in the show, and, essentially, it is us digging through a trash bag and pulling out stuff to play with. It is the essence of ‘Stomp.’ It is what ‘Stomp’ is in a nutshell — literally finding what you can and making music out of it.”
Tickets and More
For tickets and more information, visit http://pas.appstate.edu, or call the Schaefer Center box office at (800) 841-2787.
The Schaefer Center is located at 733 Rivers St. on campus in Boone. For more on “Stomp,” visit http://www.stomponline.com.