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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO EDITORS: As expected, ticket sales for "Stomp" are brisk. We suggest that you check with the Hancher box office for the latest information on ticket availability before broadcasting or printing this story, so that you may provide your audience with the most up-to-date information.)

'Stomp' returns to Hancher May 1-3 to play everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Stomp," the percussion/theater spectacle that has given new meaning to the phrase "smash hit," was one of the most popular events in each of the last three University of Iowa performing arts seasons. Now the show where percussionists with attitude play everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink is returning to Hancher Auditorium for four more performances -- at 8 p.m. Friday. May 1; 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, May 2; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3.

The performers who will swing from Hancher's back wall while pounding on auto parts and thunder across the auditorium's stage in oil-drum shoes are part of an international entertainment phenomenon that has included multiple companies performing on tour and in New York. "Stomp" performers have appeared on virtually every major TV talk and variety show, and even on a segment of the 1996 Academy Awards.

Excerpts from the production have caused a sensation on TV shows ranging from Rosie O'Donnell, Letterman, Leno, Regis and Kathie Lee, and Conan, to "Entertainment Tonight," "Good Morning America" "Dateline NBC," The Today Show," "A Current Affair," VH1, CNN, Nickelodeon's "Nick News" and even "General Hospital," "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," and "Roseanne."

Reports have been heard on National Public Radio, and the group has been featured in photo spreads in Mademoiselle, Esquire and numerous other magazines. The show's visibility has been further increased by hard-hitting national advertising appearances including spots for Target Stores and an ice-pick serenade for Coca-Cola.

The New York media found a variety of ways to describe "Stomp" during its long, triumphant off-Broadway run at the Orpheum Theatre in the East Village: "a modern vaudeville review with a rock-and-roll heart"; "a joyful blitz of disquiet"; "a unique, elaborate kind of tin can serenade"; "kind of a barely controlled tantrum"; and "the greatest show in theater history ever to rely on the percussive qualities of garden tools, auto parts, janitorial effects and general bric-a-brac."

In attempting to give a sense of the show, The New Yorker suggested, "Think Sharks and Jets with props, or post-punk cheerleaders on speed, and you'll start to get the idea."

"Stomp" has attracted similar acclaim on the road. Declaring the show "a hoot," the Los Angeles Times described the "Stomp" as "made up of equal parts musical precision (and) joyous anarchy." And the Orange County Register concluded that "Stomp" is a "rip-roaring good time" that "only a Scrooge could hate."

The history of "Stomp" producer/directors Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas can be traced to Pookiesnackenburger, a band that gave a street-tough urban update to the age-old British tradition of busking, or street music.

Before creating "Stomp," Cresswell's and McNicholas' credits included composing award-winning theme music for British television; writing theater and movie soundtracks; recording with Bette Midler and Quincy Jones; and staging outdoor percussion spectacles.

But "Stomp" has taken them to a new level of recognition and acclaim. In London "Stomp" won the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Best Choreography and was a nominee for Best Entertainment, and in New York the show received an Obie Award (the off-Broadway equivalent of the Tony Awards) and a Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatre Experience."

The actor/percussionists of "Stomp" make a rhythm out of "anything we can get our hands on that makes a sound," Cresswell explains. In fact, "Stomp" uses everything EXCEPT traditional percussion instruments: Synchronized stiff-bristle brooms become a sweeping orchestra; zippo lighters create a fiery fugue; and metal trash can lids become musical martial-arts weapons.

A "Stomp" company can go through 1,000 garbage-can lids, 700 brooms, 1,400 matchboxes, 750 garbage cans and 7,000 pints of water each season.

What makes "Stomp" a show, rather than just a concert, is the combination of highly athletic choreography and the comic theater that grows out of all the slamming, banging and stomping. The performers interact in percussive vignettes of conflict, catharsis and community.

Remaining tickets for "Stomp" are $29 and $27. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology. Audio description for the visually impaired will be provided for the 2 p.m. May 3 performance.

McLeodUSA is the corporate sponsor of "Stomp" through the University of Iowa Foundation. KDAT-FM is the show's media sponsor.