One man's trash is another man's drum set.
On the opening night of touring stage production STOMP, eight performers took a packed Tennessee Theatre back to their childhood without uttering a coherent word. Their hands and feet did all the talking.
Since 1991, STOMP has been captivating audiences around the world, mixing high-energy feats of unorthodox percussion music with athletic dance routines and slapstick visual comedy.
A 90s grunge rocker look-alike, complete with bleached mohawk, swept his way across the stage with a long-handled push broom. The ordinary sweeping quickly became smacking, twirling and thumping. Soon, the two-story set that could have been lifted directly from a back alley in New York City was filled with beat-busting punks using the tips of broom handles the way a tap dancer uses his shoes.
Each act of the hour and a half that followed made music from the sounds of everyday items being pounded in enthusiastic rhythm. Metal pails became snare drums; kitchen sinks produced an unconventional melody; oil drums pounded out a base line.
A full trash bag in the hands of three percussionists became Santa's toy bag, providing the instruments for an entire piece of music.
The drummers even played with fire, using simple lighters to mesmerize with a pulsing light show on a blacked out stage.
The genuine, abandoned laughter of a child in the audience gave voice to the giddy emotion of everyone in attendance. Watching STOMP is watching every annoying sound you got yelled at for as a kid turned into a complicated and impressive cadence. It was a liberating thing to behold.
The performers of STOMP moved across the stage with the control of ballet dancers but the personality of street performers, each artist giving the meticulously choreographed routine a raw enthusiasm.
The dance and movements were as much a part of the performance as the percussion, one act resembling an African tribal dance casting wild shadows on the walls of the ornately decorated theater and bringing the people in the cushioned seats right into the action.
Harkening back to elementary school games of call and response, the performers took the beat off the stage by giving the audience a role to play: a clap for a clap.
The rhythmic mimicry unquestioningly performed by young and old would have made any kindergarten teacher proud.
After a standing ovation, the show concluded as the mohawked performer swept his way off-stage while the audience faithfully continued snapping in time to his beat.
Perhaps we'd all be more willing to do our chores if we swept the floor like STOMP.