“TWENTIETH year at the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway!” the billboards shout, “11-year run in London’s West End!”
Yes it’s “Stomp”, the “British” troupe that wowed the crowds at the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and it’s coming to Canberra in early September.
Despite the publicity myth that “the fun started back in 1991, at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland”, it didn’t.
The international success story that has entertained audiences in 50 countries for 22 years, began in Brighton, Victoria, when musicians Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas from the group Pookiesnackenburger Buskers cooked up a 40-minute show for the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
True, it then went on to Edinburgh, won accolades and was soon picked up by a commercial management.
Ten-year company member Angus Little tells “CityNews” he was just 10 when he first saw the “Stompers” and dreamt vainly of becoming one. Encouraged by his professional actor father Mark Little, who played Joe Mangel in “Neighbours”, he and his little brother sawed off brooms and started twirling and banging them in the back shed, never dreaming that they might become real-life Stompers themselves.
When their dad decided to move to the UK for work, they followed. Forced to do jazz ballet at school, Angus says: “I was just a fat boy in tights.”
By age 20, at nearly 20 stone [127 kilograms] and seriously obese, he auditioned and made it into the London troupe. Two years ago, his younger brother got a job as a drummer in the West End show, completing the boyhood dream.
He plays “Mozzie the fall guy,” one of the two comic turns in the show, and although he’s lost a fair few kilos with all that stomping, he still makes rhythms with his body – “I use it a lot,” he says, and later I notice that the audience breaks up whenever he ripples and slaps his tummy.
There are eight performers on stage at any time and four in reserve just in case something goes wrong. “It’s like sudoku, I don’t know how we do it,” he says. But the conceptualising of “Stomp”, he says, is all inside the head of Creswell, who recently added new sequences involving shopping trolleys and huge tractor tubes.
Little turns 31 on September 1 and, despite liking the touring life, says it takes a lot of maturity to keep up the pace in a 110-minute show where the artists use garbage cans, plumbing accessories, hubcaps, boxes of matches and even plastic bags to make rhythmical sounds and where not a word is spoken.
He recently took a short break to reacquaint himself with Australia, but now, re-energised, he feels ready to face many more years as a Stomper.
“Without wanting to sound too macho, it’s very, very high octane,” Little says. “It’s not dance and it’s definitely not ‘Tap Dogs’ – it’s more of a visual and audience spectacle than a Chekhov play.”
“Stomp”, at Canberra Theatre, September 3 to 8, bookings to canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700. The author saw the show in Melbourne as a guest of the company.