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Stomp

Turning push brooms, Zippo lighters, plastic bags, and even kitchen sinks into instruments of fascinating rhythm, the Brit beat-niks performing under the collective title "Stomp" should tap onto the same popular turf trod two downtown blocks away by Blue Man Group.

With:
With: Luke Cresswell, Nick Dwyer, Sarah Eddy, Theseus Gerard, Fraser Morrison, David Olrod, Carl Smith, Fiona Wilkes.

Turning push brooms, Zippo lighters, plastic bags, and even kitchen sinks into instruments of fascinating rhythm, the Brit beat-niks performing under the collective title “Stomp” should tap onto the same popular turf trod two downtown blocks away by Blue Man Group.

The percussion group’s wordless (until the final few minutes) performance lacks the avant garde trappings and, much more important, the versatility offered by the “Tubes” gang, but “Stomp’s” very appealing blend of percussion and comedy should assure strong box office.

The six-man, two-woman group, dressed in baggy work pants, T-shirts and combat boots, is poised to repeat the success of its sold-out run at London’s Sadlers Wells Theatre. Although known to American audiences only for an appearance in Coca-Cola’s popular “ice pick” commercial, the “Stomp” group has prompted waiting lists of ticket-buyers at the Orpheum Theater.

And for good reason. The group uses any number of everyday items, from trash cans and hubcaps to hammers and matchboxes, to beat out complex, intricate rhythms. But “Stomp” is more than an offbeat concert: The group arranges its numbers as comic vignettes, occasionally interacting with the audience and always featuring the expressive, distinct personalities of the individual performers.

Typically well-constructed is a piece in which six of the performers sit on the stage silently reading newspapers. A tap here, a ruffled page there, a cough and a rip of paper quickly turn into a syncopated cacophony of joyful noise. Similar vignettes involve the troupe sweeping the stage, their brooms soon brushing and pounding infectious rhythms. One of several highlights has the group literally playing the floor-to-ceiling set, two of its members hanging from ropes while banging on items one might encounter at a city dump: old road signs, discarded gas tanks and other remnants of urban waste.

Even when the Stompers aren’t dancing, their movement is wonderfully choreographed down to the last toe-tap by directors Luke Cresswell (who also performs) and Steve McNicholas. Despite the precision, “Stomp” has a loose, uninhibited feel to it, a celebration of the primal. “Hair” revivals notwithstanding, “Stomp” just might be today’s tribal musical.

Stomp

Orpheum Theater; 350 seats; $35 top

Production: A Columbia Artists Management Inc., Harriet Newman Leve, James D. Stern, Morton Wolkowitz, Schuster/Maxwell, Gallin/Sandler, Markley/Manocherian presentation of a musical performance inone act, created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas.

Creative: Lighting, McNicholas, Neil Tiplady; production manager, Peter Donno; executive producer, Richard Frankel Productions/Marc Routh. Opened Feb. 27, 1994. Reviewed March 16.

Cast: With: Luke Cresswell, Nick Dwyer, Sarah Eddy, Theseus Gerard, Fraser Morrison, David Olrod, Carl Smith, Fiona Wilkes.

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