Stomp, on stage Wednesday and Thursday in Phoenix, has been making international headlines since it burst onto the music scene in the early ’90s. The renowned street performers continue to wow audiences, using everything from brooms and boots to trash cans and Zippo lighters to create a percussive experience like no other.
After landing in Phoenix, longtime performer Andres Fernandez gave us the scoop on why the 1-hour, 45-minute show is so enduring and what it’s like to see it for the first time.
Q: Describe Stomp for someone who’s never seen or heard the show. What will they experience?
A: They’re going to love it. When I first saw the show, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was making music with trash cans, but seeing it live is so different than seeing it on TV. It’s loud, it’s animated and there’s dancing, percussion, rhythms, and comedy. I was so amazed when I first saw the show in 1996 in Hawaii. My brother told me I could do that. ‘How do you teach someone to do that?’ I said. It has evolved throughout the years. We still have the classic numbers that have been in it 22 years, but there’s new stuff, too.
Q: Is it all percussion or are there discernible melodies?
A: It’s all percussion rhythms. It starts out with a janitor sweeping the stage and he discovers that there’s a rhythm he can make with the broom. He has rhythm with his feet and then he starts the brushes, too. Then another guy comes in with a different broom and the two of them are creating music. We make all the music ourselves. Brooms break, poles break, so people have to drop out and come back as quick as they can.
Q: What do they mean when they call you “body percussionists”?
A: We’re hitting our bodies, our stomachs, our chests, clapping and stomping our feet on the ground. Our feet are the base, our claps are the snare drum and our bodies are the toms. We’re making rhythms with our body and stomping with our feet.
Q: There’s also a comedic aspect, right? How does that play out?
A: In the show there are characters we have the audience follow. The guy who starts off the show is serious, and then there’s Mozzie (for mosquito), who’s irritating but has rhythm. He’s a funny, goofy, off-the-wall guy. Mozzie gets picked-on by everyone, but he gets the last laugh. There’s a Dr. Who and he’s kind of off-the-wall too. Then you have the two girls — one is a more serious dancer girl and then there’s the percussion girl, who has the comedic aspect to her. There’s no talking. It’s all music and facial expressions.
Q: What makes Stomp so enduring?
A: It’s easy to relate to and easy to take around the world. Everyone understands rhythm. There’s street performers all around the world and that’s where the creators came from — taking the street to the stage, paving the way for other shows.
IF YOU GO
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30, and Thursday, Jan. 31.
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St., Phoenix.
Information: (800) 745-3000 or Ticketmaster.com.