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Stomp beats a path to Sunderland Empire

The legendary show which has thrilled audiences around the world for more than two decades is coming to the Sunderland Empire

STOMP is coming to the Sunderland Empire
STOMP is coming to the Sunderland Empire

If it makes a noise when you hit it, then there’s a chance you’ll have found it in the Stomp props cupboard over the past 23 years – and Fraser Morrison has made music out of it all.

“There have definitely been love-hate relationships with the props over the years,” laughs the Scotsman who has been with the show since it debuted at the Edinburgh Festival in 1991 and evolved to become an international phenomenon.

“My favourite part of the show is when we’re just using our hands and feet though. That strips it down as far as you can go – using what you were born with to make music. That’s a personal favourite for me.”

Although he remembers being excited by the challenge of coming out from behind the drumkit he was used to hiding behind – as well as doing something which hadn’t ever been done before in a theatrical setting – Fraser is the first to admit he would never have predicted the worldwide success Stomp has enjoyed.

“We had no idea what it would become,” he says, taking a break from rehearsals for another show from the Stomp-creator stable, Lost and Found Orchestra, which is being performed in Paris.

“When Stomp first started, it was a three-week experiment at the Festival. Somewhere along the line, that has turned into more than 20 years. It’s quite unbelievable when you think about it.”

And it’s not just the percussion-soaked production’s longevity which is impressive.

As well as having a continuous stream of companies performing in the UK, Europe and America, over the years the show has thrilled audiences at such high profile events as the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys, multiple Royal Variety Performances and of course at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.

“It’s a real treat when you get to do those shows,” says Fraser, who has been front and centre in them all.

“You get to make things a bit bigger and different when it’s taken out of a theatre environment, and that’s exciting. Like at the Olympics, we had 40 cast members. That’s a lot of people when you’re doing something like Stomp.”

For the uninitiated, Stomp is a show which uses a universal language of rhythm, theatre, comedy and dance – as well as a skipful of percussion junk of course – to captivate its audience, which to date stands at around 14 million people across 50 countries.

“I think everyone relates to rhythm, so it has helped our success that we can go anywhere in the world without having to think about a language barrier,” says Fraser. “People are also happy to come and see it again because it changes all the time, depending on who is performing in the show you’re watching.

“Also, the new pieces and performers coming through all the time keeps it really fresh.”

And as if to prove his point, the press release detailing the show’s run at the Sunderland Empire – which kicks off tomorrow – has news of two new set pieces: Frogs and Trolleys.

While Frogs explores the sonic possibilities of a variety of plumbing fixtures, Trolleys taps into the everyday experience of negotiating a busy shopping aisle with a fully-laden supermarket trolley, as only Stomp can.

“Allowing the show to grow organically, while adding to it along the way has certainly kept it exciting for me,” says Fraser, who no longer performs as much as he used to, but heads up casting and training responsibilities for the UK and Europe companies.

“Also, the directors, Luke (Cresswell) and Steve (McNicholas) are still very hands-on with it and haven’t franchised it out, so nothing has been watered down.

“It still gets the same reaction now as it did when we were starting out.”

Stomp plays the Sunderland Empire from tomorrow until Saturday.

For tickets, call 0844 871 3022 or visit www.sunderlandempire.org.uk

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