ByCraig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Kamehameha Schools grad Chad Kukuhiko, left, is now a member
of the Stomp troupe, shown in a performance at Tamarind Park.
Jason Mills works with Kukuhiko, while Damien grad
Ivan Delaforce waits his turn at right. Stomp will be at
Hawaii Theatre tomorrow through Dec. 29.


Two local talents do a bang-up job in the
rhythmic off-Broadway hit

By Tim Ryan

WARNING to Bethel Street businesses, residents and passersby. The noise you'll be hearing from the Hawaii Theatre starting tomorrow night through Dec. 29 is not more renovation.

It's going to sound like wooden poles and fire buckets and garbage can lids and hatchet handles and wheel rims and ball-peen hammers being banged and smashed and pounded. Because that's what it will be.

"Stomp" is the off-Broadway hit that's a junkyard of surprises celebrating the uninhibited fun of making noise into music with the help, of course, of the aforementioned items. Attired in "urban animal" fashion, the eight cast members begin each sequence simply, almost experimentally. Then, as if gradually realizing the possibilities of their props, they build increasingly elaborate and aggressive patterns of percussion - that means loud - and movement about the stage.

"Every performance is a bit different," says 1990 Kamehameha Schools grad Chad Kukahiko, a "Stomp" cast member for 18 months. "Even though the music stays the same, other things happen spontaneously, like the specific way I make a sound with my body."

That spontaneity and off-beat matter of the musical is what attracted another local talent, Damien High grad Ivan Delaforce.

"It keeps it fun," Delaforce said. "The show is so weird that it's great to see people freak out. And it's every drummer's dream to be pounding things every night."

Oh, and pound they do. There is no dialogue, narration or conventional musical instruments in the plotless, 90-minute show, and no intermission.

Here's a list of materials used:

There's also a stainless steel sink with draining board, an oil drum and eight ski boots.

"We all play pretty much the same music and a variety of instruments, including our own bodies," Kukahiko said. "Sure, it makes it easier to have fun, but it's also more work because you're constantly thinking up new things to do and having to stay alert to what other cast members are doing because there are moments when a cast member will grab onto anything to create a sound."

The touring company of "Stomp" played 24 cities last year and will hit about 54 this year. Off Broadway it's been running for two years. On television, "Stomp" creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas have intricately choreographed commercials to tout Target stores and Coke. There's even talk about a movie.

Cresswell and McNicholas first put their idea on stage at the 1991 Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. What began as a 90-second routine grew until it evolved into a full-length performance piece.

A drummer since he was a teen-ager, Kukahiko, 24, knew he wanted to be in "Stomp" the first time he saw the show.

"In college I had this work-study job in a prop room and I used to amuse myself by setting up on a chair a cement block, chain, a piece of wood and a hubcap and then drum on it all day," he said. " 'Stomp' is the perfect job for me."

The show seems to appeal to everyone's inner drummer, drawing jazz fans as well as the heavy-metal crowd, Kukahiko said.

Delaforce believes the popularity of "Stomp" is because it proves that "everybody has rhythm whether they know it or not."

"Since there are no words it can relate to any country," he said. "It all starts with the heartbeat which everyone can relate to."

The audience also is an integral part of the show. "We make them a member of the cast in a way no show has ever done," Kukahiko said. "The audience takes part from the beginning through rhythmic interaction."

The show is physical so injuries, though rare, are always a concern, Kukahiko said. Kneecaps and knuckles get smashed and his hand was once punctured by a match stick.

In the routine called "Suspension," Delaforce is strapped high on a wall wearing rock-climbing gear, and plays drum sticks while swinging back and forth. Another risky piece, "Walkers," finds cast members walking around wearing large barrels on their feet.

But "Stomp" has done more for Kukahiko than test his body.

"It's increased my overall confidence of what I think I am capable and the direction I want to go in the future. 'Stomp' has so much rhythm and freedom I know this is what I will always seek."

Stomp on stage

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays and 3 and 7 p.m. Sundays tomorrow through Dec. 29. Special hours are 8 p.m. Dec. 23 and 27; 5 and 9 p.m. Dec. 26 and 28; and 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 29
Where: Hawaii Theatre
Cost: $25, $29.50 and $39.50 weekdays; $31.50, $35 and $45 weekends
Call: 528-0506

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