STOMP, a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy, was created in Brighton, UK, in the summer of 1991. It was the result of a ten-year collaboration between its creators, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas.
They first worked together in 1981, as members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger and the theatre group Cliff Hanger. Together, these groups presented a series of street comedy musicals at the Edinburgh Festival throughout the early ‘80s. After two albums, a UK TV series and extensive touring throughout Europe, Pookiesnackenburger also produced the highly acclaimed “Bins” commercial for Heineken lager.
The piece was originally written and choreographed by Luke as part of the band’s stage show; it proved to be the starting point for STOMP’s climactic dustbin dance.
In 1986, Luke and Steve created an eight-minute ‘percussive movie’ for Bette Midler’s HBO special Mondo Beyondo. Between 1987 and 1990, Luke staged, as Artistic and Musical Director, four large-scale outdoor events, including “Beat the Clyde”, which involved floating a drum orchestra on a pontoon in the centre of Glasgow; the largest of these events, “The Heineken Hove Lagoon Show”, involved a 120-piece drum orchestra featuring the Brighton Festival Chorus and a full orchestral string section.
In 1991, Steve and Luke first created STOMP, previewing at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre and premiering at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, where it became The Guardian’s “Critics’ Choice” and won The Daily Express “Best of the Fringe Award”.
Between 1991 and 1994, the original cast of STOMP played to capacity audiences around the world: from Hong Kong to Barcelona, from Dublin to Sydney. The touring culminated in a sell-out season at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre in January 1994, where STOMP received an Olivier nomination for Best Entertainment and won Best Choreography in a West End Show.
An expanded version of STOMP, involving up to 30 cast members, was originally created for the Brighton Festival, UK, and was subsequently presented in Melbourne, Australia. It was most recently seen in September 1995, open-air, at the Acropolis in Athens and at the Royal Festival Hall, London. This production broke all box office records, which had been established by Frank Sinatra in 1972.
STOMP began its run at the Orpheum Theatre in New York in February 1994 and quickly went on to win both an Obie and a Drama Desk Award for Most Unique Theatre Experience. By the summer of 1994, the first American cast was in place at the Orpheum, freeing the original cast for sell-out tours of North America and Japan.
In the summer of 1995, two more American productions were created for the sole purpose of US touring, which continues to this day. US casts have also debuted STOMP in Chile, Brazil and Korea. Meanwhile, a fifth STOMP company, also touring from the UK, was formed in 1997 and has consistently toured the world ever since. This company presented STOMP for the first time in Scandinavia and South Africa, and has been a regular visitor to Germany, Holland and France. Another STOMP production opened in San Francisco in May 2000, running for two and a half years.
The original cast of STOMP have recorded music for the Tank Girl movie soundtrack and appeared on the Quincy Jones album, Q’s Jook Joint. A soundtrack recorded by Steve and Luke for the Showtime movie Riot was released in the spring of 1997. STOMP has also featured in a number of commercials, including Coca-Cola’s “Ice Pick” and numerous spots for both Target stores in the US and Toyota in Japan.
STOMP also created the Mr Frears’ Ears series of short films created for Nickelodeon, whilst Brooms, a 15-minute short based around the opening routine, was nominated for an Academy Award. “Brooms” was also selected for screening at Robert Redford’s Sundance Festival and for competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
STOMP made a special appearance at the Academy Awards in March 1996, with an original piece involving the live synchronization of classic film clips and onstage action, featuring 20 performers from all five productions.
In the summer of 1997, Steve and Luke created and directed STOMP OUT LOUD, a 45-minute television special for HBO, which combined stage material with new pieces created for TV. It was premiered in the USA in December 1997 and subsequently received four Emmy nominations, for direction, sound mixing, multi-camera editing and art direction. 1998 saw the release of the STOMP OUT LOUD video and DVD around the world. Another unique blend of live action and film footage was created for the Emmy Awards, in which STOMP effectively performed with Spike Jones!
STOMP performed after midnight on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at US President Clinton’s millennium celebrations. During 2000, a Sesame Street special, “Let’s Make Music”, a collaboration between STOMP and the Muppets, was released on TV and video in North America.
Luke and Steve began production of their IMAX movie Pulse: A STOMP Odyssey in Brazil during Carnival 2000 and completed it in the summer of 2002. Pulse takes the IMAX audience on a spectacular global journey, featuring performances from Kodo, Timbalada and Eva Yerbabuena. It was released to critical acclaim in New York in the autumn of 2002, and went on to win two major awards at the International Festival of La Géode in Paris.
In September 2002, STOMP finally entered London’s West End at the Vaudeville Theatre, and later that year STOMP performed as part of The Royal Variety Show for the second time.
2003 saw a new STOMP production open at the Stuart Street Theatre in Boston and a unique Dolby Digital trailer featuring STOMP performances debuted in cinemas across the globe.
In 2004, New York celebrated 10 years of continuous performances of STOMP at the Orpheum Theatre by renaming 2nd Avenue at 8th Street Stomp Avenue.
In addition to the European tour, in 2005 STOMP returned to Tokyo for three weeks and also toured to Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
In 2006, STOMP’s New York production passed its 5,000th performance mark. In the same year, Luke and Steve directed a public service announcement for television called “Stomp Out Litter”, which featured the cast ‘sweeping up’ at iconic locations in the five boroughs.
In addition, they were commissioned to create and produce The Lost and Found Orchestra, which takes the ideas behind STOMP to a symphonic level, in celebration of 40 years of the Brighton Festival. The LFO subsequently performed at the Sydney Opera House as part of the Sydney Festival early in 2007, was seen at the Royal Festival Hall in London at Christmas 2008 and the Theater Carré in February 2009.
In 2007, STOMP OUT LOUD opened in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino with an expanded cast and performed inside a new $28 million theatre, specifically created for the production. The West End entered its 6th consecutive year with a move from the Vaudeville to the Ambassadors Theatre.
In 2008, STOMP returned to its roots for a new DVD shoot at the Brighton Dome, bringing together a cast from all over the STOMP world. For the first time, the entire show has been captured in high-definition sound and video. 2008 also saw Steve and Luke expand into new areas with the release of their IMAX 3D nature documentary Wild Ocean, with a symphonic mix of percussion and traditional orchestra in the soundtrack. In September of the same year, Wild Ocean won two awards at the Giant Screen Cinema Association for Best Sound and Best Original Score at their annual conference held in New York.
The Lost and Found Orchestra reunited in 2010 for a new show, PANDEMONIUM, which appeared in several US cities throughout the autumn.
In 2011 the New York production of STOMP entered its eighteenth year, trouncing the Orpheum house record set by Little Shop of Horrors. It also entered its tenth year in the West End at the Ambassadors Theatre, whilst at the same time Steve and Luke continued with their 3D film work. 2012 has seen the release of The Last Reef 3D, a film about the beauty and the plight of reefs worldwide. As with Wild Ocean, Luke and Steve composed the film’s orchestral soundtrack, recording it at The Old Market Theatre in their hometown of Brighton & Hove in the UK. They have also celebrated the one year anniversary of The Old Market Theatre, which, having renovated it back in 2011, they now run as a full time venue, bringing music, theatre, dance, comedy and visual arts to the UK’s south coast.
Most recently, in August 2012, the largest ever assembly of STOMP performers (40 performers from 12 different countries) were brought together for a specifically choreographed appearance in the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
STOMP was created with the original U.K. cast:
Luke Cresswell, Nick Dwyer, Sarah Eddy, Theseus Gerard, Fraser Morrison, David Olrod, Carl Smith and Fiona Wilkes.