STOMP closes after 29-year New York run | KPCC – NPR News for Southern California

STOMP closes after 29-year New York run | KPCC – NPR News for Southern California

The choreographed clatter of trash can lids, clattering boot heels and screeching brooms that has been synonymous with downtown New York’s performing arts scene for nearly three decades is coming to an end this week. His final performance is on Sunday.

“Twenty-nine years is a long time to run,” said STOMP co-producer and general manager Richard Frankel. “Foreign tourists became a big part of our audience and they really haven’t been back to New York since COVID. It’s been tough. We’re just not selling enough tickets.”

But that doesn’t mean STOMP is going away. Over the course of his career, he has become an international phenomenon, playing in 45 countries. Its performers appeared on Sesame Street and at the 2012 Olympics. It’s spoofed on The Simpsons. And many companies have sprung up – up to six at a time.

Although STOMP’s long-running run in London closed in 2018, producers said the North American and European tours still do good business and will continue for the foreseeable future. “We just had a five-week sale in Paris,” said STOMP co-founder Steve McNicholas.

From the streets to the edge

STOMP, which is wordless, has its roots in the UK street performance scene of the 1980s. McNicholas, along with co-creator Luke Cresswell, used their bodies and everyday objects to demonstrate the power of rhythm; when they brought their performance to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1991, it caught the attention of producers. Tours of Australia and Canada followed.

When Frankel and his partners saw STOMP in Toronto two years later, they decided to find it a home in New York at the 347-seat Orpheum theater.

“STOMP is a group of street performers kicking things. It really captured the East Village sensibility of the 1990s,” said producer Frankel.

Co-founder McNicholas said New York has been the heart of the STOMP universe. The city has not only hosted around 11,500 performances of the show, but is also where the company has held most of its auditions. A company spokesman said the tour company’s future audition location has not yet been determined.

Every show that runs for nearly three decades — and there aren’t many — has performers and production staff who come over time to see the cast as family. This is literally the case for Fiona Mills, who has now been with the company for over 30 years. As a longtime STOMP performer and rehearsal director, she first met her husband Jason Mills when he auditioned in the mid-1990s. She is devastated to be closing the New York production.

“It feels like someone cut my arm off,” she said. “Like a part of my identity has been taken away.”

Over the years, the show has gathered super-fans, and they also feel lost. New York-based songwriter and music producer Bowlegged Lou — that’s his stage name — said he’s seen the show 225 times since the late 1990s.

“It’s been a staple in New York City for so long — the downtown equivalent of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Central Park,” he said.

But he is still excited to see it one last time: Sunday’s final will be his 226th appearance. “After that,” he said, “I’ll have to see the show on tour.”

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