For critics and fans, nearly 29 years of 'Stomp' memories
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For critics and fans, nearly 29 years of 'Stomp' memories
Luke Cresswell, left, one of the creators of “Stomp,” performing in the show with Theseus Gerard as part of the New York production’s cast in 1994. “Stomp,” the long-running Off Broadway show, will close in New York on Jan. 8, 2023, after nearly 29 years onstage. (Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

by Nicole Herrington

NEW YORK, NY.- “Stomp,” the long-running off-Broadway show, will close in New York on Sunday after nearly 29 years onstage. We asked our critics and New York Times readers to share what the show has meant to them. Below are edited and condensed selections of their responses.

Oh, (New York) baby

Our first son’s first show was “Stomp,” but when he showed up to see it on Labor Day weekend of 1994, management tried to turn him away. Perhaps that’s because he was 6 months old. “Stomp,” an usher explained, less to the child than to his father, was a very loud, in-your-face experience, inappropriate for an infant in a BabyBjörn and Crayola-colored shoes. Nevertheless, father and son were grudgingly seated, in one seat. I was not there, but I can report with some confidence, based on family lore and my subsequent experience of their theater habits, that both enjoyed those parts of the show they didn’t sleep through. For New York babies, and some adults as well, “Stomp” was just the sound of the city. — JESSE GREEN

Teenage angst

I first saw “Stomp” with my family about 16 years ago. When I saw that we were headed to a tiny East Village theater, I was immediately disappointed, convinced that Broadway was the be-all and end-all. So I responded as a typical teenager: I pouted, with my arms crossed, stubbornly refusing to enjoy it. A performer noticed, and made eye contact with me throughout the show, just as obstinately trying to make me laugh — so much so that my parents noticed, too. The experience helped me realize that theater could be even more intimate, imaginative and experimental than the Midtown moneymakers. I’m grateful to the performer who worked so hard to entertain a close-minded teen, and can now admit it: I liked “Stomp.” — MAYA PHILLIPS

Good bone structure

I saw “Stomp” 17 years into its run, in 2011 — meaning that as far as New Yorkers are concerned, the show was roughly 16 years past its expiration date. Living here, it often feels as if a production loses its cachet as soon as it’s drained the tristate audience and turns to visitors; not even “Sleep No More” or “Hamilton” are immune. Yes, everything ages and a production’s original chemistry can dilute out, but many if not most of those “tourist traps” got positive reviews when they opened. They stuck around because they have a good bone structure that should be envied, not derided. — ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

Never have I been so wrong

In early February of 1994, I was in London working as a choreographer, and I was invited to a performance (at Sadler Wells) in celebration of the production moving to New York City! I sat through “Stomp” and afterward, given that this was wordless, with a repetitive narrative (variations on one concept), declared that “Stomp” just wasn’t “commercial” enough and would not last more than a couple of weeks in the big city. What do I know? A couple of years later I took my daughter to see it and, on a second viewing, realized how wrong I was or at least why “Stomp” has stomped the box office all these years. — STEPHAN KOPLOWITZ, NEW YORK CITY

Kid-Friendly staple

My friend and I took our 4-year-olds to see it 15 years ago. I live in the East Village and it is such a staple of the neighborhood. It’s at the same theater that had the original “Little Shop of Horrors.” We all had the best time. The kids loved seeing people making noise and dancing with garbage can lids if I recall correctly. I can’t even imagine anything else on that marquee but “Stomp.” — EVA HEINEMANN, NEW YORK CITY

Creating magic

When my wife and I saw “Stomp” in 1995, we were bowled over by the sheer creativity of it all. What great clamor! Who knew people could get so much rhythm out of such mundane (and otherwise nonmusical) items as garbage-can lids and paper? It was brilliant, exciting and, for the cast, exhausting. The fact that these talented players (and their successors) could keep creating the magic, night after night, for nearly three decades speaks well for the creativity, resourcefulness and energy of the production team. — JOHN POPE, NEW ORLEANS

I will miss it

After it was announced that the show would close, we got tickets for that Thursday matinee. I walked in curious, excited, and a little skeptical: Was it really that good? Should anything run this long? Well, I was rapt from the moment it began.

I was struck by the fact that there is something so pure and so human about “Stomp” — it’s not only highly entertaining, but it taps (no pun intended) into an inherent human desire to play, discover, and devise. Every child taps an empty bottle, or crumples up some paper — deriving pleasure and satisfaction from the creation and sensation of noise. I can’t stop thinking about how beautiful it is to live in a world where those artists perform that show daily.

Like anything that runs that long, and seeps into the culture that deep, “Stomp” has become an institution, a landmark on the New York cultural scene. I will miss it, even though I only caught it in the final weeks of a three-decade run, because — like the Chrysler Building or a taxicab — it is New York. — ROBERT RUSSO, NEW YORK CITY

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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