HBO’s polished and cleverly conceived “Stomp Out Loud” largely succeeds in capturing the clamorous appeal of the popular stage show, in which a troupe of casually clad hoofers tap, clatter and thump their way through elaborately choreographed routines while providing their own accompaniment by beating out that rhythm on pretty much anything but a drum.
Segments culled from a live perf before an audience in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are interspersed with staged vignettes that take the show’s rhythm-of-urban-life stylings a step further. An alley routine finds the Stompsters putting together an impromptu concerto for basketballs and Dumpsters, interrupted by the angry howl of a chef. Camera then travels into the chef’s kitchen, where a cast of characters finds all manner of percussive possibilities: Vegetables are chopped, pots are clattered, pans are scrubbed in a virtuosic, ear-pleasing cacophony that’s captured by directors Luke Creswell and Steven McNicholas in a single, spectacularly choreographed Scorsese-style take.
Creswell and McNicholas are the English creators of the “Stomp” stage show, and their direction of the special, not surprisingly, has a rhythmic flair that complements the hoofing. They could have a big future in musicvideos.
With virtually no dialogue and no narration, the show lets the concept speak for itself, and only a fussily directed recurring segment featuring a quartet of nervous card sharks promises more than it delivers. Ultimately, though, the visceral charge that drives the stage show can’t be captured on film, where immediacy is naturally lost. This drawback comes through most clearly at the close, when an encore featuring the audience getting in on the act is likely to leave viewers at home feeling left out. That may be the point, one suspects: For all its appeal, this HBO spec works best as a lavishly funded advertisement for the stage show.