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WHAT: "Stomp"

WHEN: Through Sunday

WHERE: Shea's Performing Arts Center, 646 Main St.

TICKETS: $22.50 to $37.50


Its weekly inventory list reads like a Home Depot store directory:

Thirty brooms.

Five short bins.

Sixteen pounds of sand.

Twelve boxes of matches.

And that's not including the eight bananas, four blocks of athlete's chalk, 200 liters of water and 12 pairs of drumsticks.

For the cast of "Stomp," the all-percussive performance troupe that celebrates its 13th anniversary this year, these are more than mere building supplies.

These are their instruments.

"We've just put folding chairs into the show," Fiona Wilkes, Stomp's resident rehearsal director, said by phone. "And we have (one act with) Zippo lighters. It's in the dark; you can see the flames. It's one of my favorites."

For Wilkes, a member of the original off-Broadway and British casts, making "music" with Zippos and folding chairs makes perfect sense. As per the philosophy of "Stomp," percussion goes far and beyond pounding bass drums and clashing cymbals.

"Rhythm is the language of life, and we've all got an internal beat going on. It's something that we all kind of understand," she said. "Even blind people, even deaf people -- they can all understand it. It's visual as well as auditory."

That explosion of sight and sound -- the one that has kept Stomp going strong off-Broadway for 10 solid years and playing to audiences across the globe -- returns to Buffalo this weekend for five performances in Shea's Performing Arts Center. According to Wilkes, it is a one-of-a-kind experience.

"You can bring your grandmother and everybody in your family to it," she said. "Just be open. Be yourself, and you'll definitely walk away with something."

A 45-minute show version of "Stomp" premiered in 1991 in London's Bloomsbury Theatre, and it later competed in Edinburgh. After a brief tour of Britain and Europe, the show traveled to Australia before heading to the United States in 1994.

Wilkes was along for the whole ride.

Now it's close to an hour and 45 minutes. "We've taken routines out and put them back in. We have so many different things that we do, like the Zippo lighters."

Where "Stomp" goes from here is anybody's guess. Maybe TV, perhaps. Certainly more touring. For Wilkes and her extended "Stomp" family, though, the message has grown over the last 13 years to stand for far more than the medium.

"You see people come out of the show that they've been in for an hour and a half, and you see them looking around at themselves and hearing themselves -- everyday sounds," she said. "It's all around. The music is out there, you can do it. You are doing it."

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