STOMP was created in 1991, by two men from the United Kingdom, Stomp demonstrated how performers using a variety of everyday objects as percussion instruments could provide a unique sound in their shows. Steve McNicholas and Luke Cresswell, known as the creators of Stomp, first worked together in 1981 as members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger; which performed a series of street comedy musicals at the Edinburgh Festival.
This show that has received rave reviews, awards included an Emmy and Academy Award nominations and won an Emmy for Stomp Out Loud an Obie Award and a Drama Desk Award for Most Unique Theatre Experience is a holiday Christmas gift you have to give to your kids; and it will be a wish list gift for you. STOMP is now playing at
STOMP is now playing at Broadway Playhouse At Water Tower Place and Let's Play had the pleasure of talking candidly with some of the actors of this phenomenal production.
IN CONVERSATION WITH KRYSTAL RENEE, DESMOND HOWARD, KAYLA COWART, AND ARTIS OLDS
LP: Krystal, you have worked under the tutelage of some great coaches, directors and a Tony Award winner in dance. How has this guidance help mode you into the performer you are today?
KR: It’s been helpful more in the sense of my professionalism, knowing what it is to enter a professional show and getting an idea how people in that sort of environment usually work and the training has helped me to prepare for a show like Stomp. It's a very physical show but it also requires a lot of focus and we depend on each other a lot; so the guidance I received along with my experience aided me with my focus and professional.
LP: How long have you been performing?
KR: Stomp is my first big professional show, however before Stomp, I started performing as a kid in after-school programs my mom would always put me in; however, I don't think she ever really expected me to be a performer. She would enroll me in things like tennis or dance classes and throughout my life, these things help shaped me. My first real performance was in high school when I went to the Fame School (LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts). That is where I really started to learned that being a performer was something I could do professionally.
LP: Desmond your background is in dance. How is this care-free type of beats, sequence, and rhythms work in Stomp?
DH: It has actually helped me a great deal with a lot of the choreography we have in the show.
I’m able to understand the moves I need to perform which makes it a lot of easier and removes a lot of the complexity which helps me not to necessarily think about the movements and focus on the music.
The music in Stomp is heavy and that has to be the primary focus but there are areas in which the choreography is just as important. If the choreography is messed up it will also mess up the music, so for me as a dancer, having that background element has made it easier in certain parts to learn and depending on what piece we are performing it helps me get more comfortable in my performance.
LP: So is there is a certain piece in Stomp where your professionalism in dance has really helped you?
DH: Yes! For one of the characters that I played Particle Man in Bin's, my dance background helps incredibly in the creativity in what I can add to the trash can lids performance.
LP: Kayla as a performer in Stomp, talk about the intricate movements and precision needed and how your past experience has helped in that preparation?
KC: The movements and precision are very important in Stomp so my experience indeed has helped with the music I perform with the other characters on stage. We all played a variety of music with the different type of objects and we all move together and feed off the energy we generate from each other and the audience. With regards to the intricate movements, I just continuously move and stay in motion, because it helps me play the music. I just like to keep in mental and physical pulse within me so I'm ready to perform it my peak.
LP: How long have you been dance?
KC: I’ve been dancing since the age of two. My mother put me in dance class when I was two years old, but when you are two, it’s more like “Mommy and Me” classes. We started off with clapping and getting my rhythm together and we would do that like five to six classes a week.
LP: How did Step Afrika prepare you for Stomp and tell us what excites you about performing in Stomp?
AO: Step Afrika which is the first professional dance company created that specializes in the art form of stepping really help me to be in a position to really shine in Stomp because within Step Afrika we do stepping, which is the highly energetic poly-rhythmic percussive dance form created by African-American college students back in the early 1900s and that percussion dance style is something that you see on the Stomp stage.
LP: Artis, you are a Chicago native and Stomp toured here back in 2016. Were you a part of that tour?
AO: Yes, that was actually my first season with Stomp. I have just finished training and I had only been in the show for about two weeks when we open in Chicago so I was very fresh; however, I'm really excited to be back and have a couple years of experience under my belt.
LP: Krystal, tell our listeners what should they expect to hear and witness coming to see the performance of Stomp?
KR: What's amazing about Stomp is it’s really isn't like any other Broadway shows that you will see. It's really non-traditional in where we are making music out of instruments that people would not normally consider an instrument like using a broom and garbage cans. We are also allowed to add a lot be of our own uniqueness to the show; so that's something that's really fun and even if you see it one time, it's never the same because every performer has a different style and background.
What you can expect is always something different that is high energy, raw, and loud but it will definitely be something that is going to move you, no matter what language you speak.
LP: Desmond, you performed several forms of dance and one is B-boying. What dance forms is your favorite and will we see any special moves in Stomp?
DH: B-boying, is the cultural name for breakdancing, however, breakdancing is the commercial name that got picked up. In terms of the dance forms, I’m geared to freestyle hip-hop + house dance. The cool thing is that house music started here in Chicago, The Warehouse, so to be here and then have that historical influence, really makes me want to get involved in the culture here, but house dancing, freestyle hip-hop has definitely helped a great deal in the movement that I do when I'm performing.
Depending on what the music, freestyle hip-hop movements helps influence what type of movement I can do within the choreography to add a little more depth. This is where the house dance movements help with my fluidity to move around on the stage easily without it feeling stagnant; that helps me a great deal.
LP: Kayla, can you tell us were there any challenges with preparing for your role in Stomp?
KC: The biggest challenge for me was playing and holding the line. The lines that we have goes with our role with performing in Stomp There are eight characters and we're all playing music together to make one song but we all have our own track and then when you add all those tracks together, that creates the whole song. The biggest challenge for me wasn’t my track; I could do that easily, it was hearing my track against other tracks that the other performers were playing. I really had to learn how to listen to myself and listen to something completely different, while making what I learned from my tracks whole with the other tracks each performer on stage was playing.
LP: Artis, tell us about the educational interactive virtual stepping exhibit?
AO: It's an exhibit at Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (Washington, DC) and it’s a virtual interactive exhibit where I'm teaching people about stepping. How it works, is that you step into a simulation and as you enter, there is a big screen and I'm teaching participants about the art of stepping and providing lessons.
LP: Artis, elaborate to our listeners, how this freestyle interactive teaching correlates to what you are doing in Stomp.
AO: The similarities to the virtual interactive exhibit and Stomp are the conversation that we get to have with the audience. Stomp isn't your traditional musical theater experience where you come in and just sit and observe. In Stomp, it’s a show where you are expected to be a part of the show. We want the audience to really enjoy the show which means participating; like clapping to be a part of the show.
So in comparison, I think with the exhibit, I want you to learn about the culture and to get up and move and with Stomp, we don't necessarily need you to get into the aisles but we do want you to be really active, enjoy the show and have fun.
Let's Play will like to thank Margie Korshak, Inc. for access to this interview.
At Water Tower Place Presents
Created and Directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas
Filed under: ChicagoNow