The cast members of the hit percussion-heavy musical “STOMP!” are more than just performers. They are community activists working hard to bring awareness to hunger through the STOMP Out Hunger initiative, which strives to bring nationwide awareness to the nation’s hungry in each city STOMP tours.
“We want to give back and give people another reason to smile,” said STOMP cast member Lance Liles. “Specific cast members go out and promote the effort and we do fundraising and press events and have people bring canned goods that we donate to the local food shelter.
“Sometimes we do a laundry purge and donate clothes from the show that are still wearable,” continues Liles who was born and raised in New York. He has been on tour with STOMP for two years. “We are really conscious of society and we definitely want to be a blessing to people.”
On October 30 members of the cast did an impromptu mini performance of STOMP for students at the PA School for the Deaf.
STOMP was created in 1991 by United Kingdom street performers Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas. The pair met while performing in the street band, Pookiesnakenburger and in the theater group Cliff Hanger.
It opened in 1994 and won an Obie and Drama Desk Award. The U.S. tour began a year later and STOMP was featured on Quincy Jones’s “Q’s Juke Joint” album on a cut entitled “Stomp,” which featured Mr. X, Melle Mel, Coolio, Yo-Yo, Chaka Khan, Charlie Wilson, Luniz and Shaquille O’Neal.
The 100 minute intermissonless show is a unique musical theater experience filled with performers with varied personalities who perform choreographed percussion, movement and physical comedy.
As part of the Broadway Across America Series, the show just completed its 5-day run at Heinz Hall from Oct. 30 to Nov. 4.
Performers use all kinds of household items including brooms, short bins, poles, sandbags and even bananas to create music.
“There are many different instruments that we use. You name it and STOMP has put their hands on it. If the item has a tone to it, it can be used to make music,” Liles said. “When everyone leaves the show, their kitchen becomes an instant place for music.”
According to Liles, anyone can audition to be a part of the phenomenon that is STOMP.
“Once you audition and are chosen, you go through six to eight week training intensive and they teach you the routines and dances. You have to be good with rhythm and work well with others,” said Liles who is a trained tap dancer, choreographer, composer and percussionist.
“In the show you have the opportunity to incorporate your specialty into it. I have the freedom to dance and provide visuals and give the audience a good time,” he said.