BWW Interview: Krystal Renée 'Challenges the Idea of What An Instrument Is' in STOMP

BWW Interview: Krystal Renée 'Challenges the Idea of What An Instrument Is' in STOMP

STOMP, the multi-awarding winning percussion show, is making its way across North America and is set to play a limited engagement at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

Krystal Renée, who was previously in the Off-Broadway cast of STOMP, is currently in the cast of the touring production. Broadway World interviewed Krystal about the current touring production of STOMP, and how this show has continued to entertain and wow audiences for over twenty years. Read our interview below!


Thank you for talking with us. I know you were in STOMP Off-Broadway. How long have you been involved with STOMP?

I was. I started off in the New York show, so I've been in it about three years now.

How has the show evolved since then? As it changes, doesn't it?

Well, it doesn't really change in regards to [what each number entails], but definitely we do different numbers, for example, in the New York show than in the tour show. Every couple of years, the creators of the show, Luke [Cresswell] and Steve [McNicholas], will add a new number in, or change some things around. Every show really is different because we always have different people playing different roles.

What are the major differences between the New York show and the touring show?

The major differences I've seen between the New York and tour show are the numbers, for example, one number that we do on tour is 'Paint Cans'. We don't do that in the New York show, but I really love it. It's a beautiful number, just how it looks visually, but also the sound of it.

Do you have a favorite number?

I do! I would say one of my favorites is 'Suspension'. It's a number where a few us are suspended in the air as we are playing the music. It's very fun. I had a fear of heights coming in, so it's kind of ironic that now that's my favorite number to do.

BWW Interview: Krystal Renée 'Challenges the Idea of What An Instrument Is' in STOMP
Krystal Renée in STOMP
Credit: STOMP

How difficult was the choreography to learn? It looks incredibly difficult.

(Laughs) I think everyone has some sort of difficulty learning it, because some people come into the show as drummers, and some people come into the show as dancers, but really STOMP is its own sort of show. So those of us who are dancers, it might be more difficult to learn the drumming side of things, and the drummers may say, "Oh my goodness, this movement is weird!"

You play instruments... Do you think that helped with STOMP?

Yes, I play guitar. I'm a singer-songwriter outside of the show, but I don't play those instruments in the show... That does help, to some degree. I think, just any sort of rhythm that you have, whether it's drumming or playing guitar, or if it's body percussion. Any sort of background that you have in music definitely helps you out a bit.

Yeah, because the whole show is about playing percussion instruments, but weird instruments.

(Laughs) They are weird instruments! But really an instrument, when you think about it, is just something that was created at some point to make a sound, and people liked that sound and found out they could get different tones from it, and that's how it became an instrument. STOMP challenges the idea of what an instrument is.

Is there any dialogue in the show?

No, there's no words or anything like that. Which is nice, because then people in different countries can still relate to it.

But there's still comedy?

There is some comedy in the show! One of the characters in particular is a character who tends to get the most laughs because that character tends to do things that are different to how everybody else is doing them or what everyone else is doing. So it's a great show for kids, they tend to love it.

It definitely looks like a family show that everyone could enjoy.

Yeah, it really is something that I think all age groups can enjoy. The kids will like the comedic aspect of things, and still understand the story without words. There will be some adults in the audience who will be musicians, or just enjoy the theater, and they will be able to get something from it as well, because it's such a well-written show.

Is that why it has been so successful around the world?

I think that's a major reason why it has been so successful, but it was also created by two people who were buskers at some point, so I think there is a certain passion and energy for music, and they put that into the creation of this show. Nothing was left at a basic state; I think they are always trying to challenge themselves, and us, to make the show a little bit more intricate.

Are the original creators still heavily involved? Have they choreographed all of the new elements, or have other people come onboard?

They are definitely [still involved]. They choreographed the whole show. There is room for improvisation, which is something that makes each show a little different. I'd say it's about 75-80% written, and the rest is improvised. We can come up with our own solos, or even sometimes character-wise you can play around. There's a lot of freedom there.

So if you were to see STOMP multiple times, the show would be different every time?

Yes, I would say so. Also, people play different roles. One night you may have someone playing a more serious character, and then one night you have them playing a more comedic role. Because of that, everyone reacts with you a little bit differently; there's different energy and vibes.

BWW Interview: Krystal Renée 'Challenges the Idea of What An Instrument Is' in STOMP

How long is the tour? Do you have anything lined up for when the tour finishes?

We finish on May 19th and we started late October. I started a band last summer, so personally I'm just trying to grow and develop my own business. Looking at all that's STOMP has done, and it's very inspiring to me as an artist and as a creator.


Krystal Renée is a New York native and LaGuardia High School alumna, Krystal has worked intensively in the theater, dance, and music fields. She attended California Institute of the Arts, studied voice abroad at Florence University of the Arts, and graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Purchase. Among others, Krystal has worked under the coaching of Ben Harney, Michael Cassara, Charles Tuthill, Craig Derry, and various instructors at Broadway Dance Center and KMA Studios. Find out more at WhoisKrystal.com.

STOMP, is a show like no other; it has created its own inimitable, contemporary form of rhythmic expression through a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy. Synchronized stiff-bristle brooms become a sweeping orchestra; eight Zippo lighters flip open and closed to create a fiery fugue; wooden poles thump and clack in a rhythmic explosion. STOMP uses everything but conventional percussion instruments - dustbins, tea chests, radiator hoses, boots, hub caps - to fill the stage with a compelling and unique act that is often imitated but never duplicated.

STOMP will play at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta for three performances; Friday April 6th at 8 p.m.; and Saturday April 7th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets can purchased here.

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