The wildly popular rhythm-show returns to the Balboa Theatre, with local performers and new additions
Call it The Santee Stomp. No, it’s not a new dance move. But it is a reflection of the three former Santee residents involved in the touring production of the worldwide rhythm phenom, “STOMP.”
Think of an everyday object: pot, pan, broom, Zippo lighter, even the kitchen sink. STOMPers make a pulse-pounding, rhythmic noise of it, creating a whirring, swishing, clicking, clanging, tapping, snapping symphony of life.
The show is the brainchild of Luke Cresswell, a self-taught Brighton, England percussionist, and Steve McNicholas, an actor/singer/musician/writer/director from Yorkshire. The unique work, which has been widely copied, premiered in 1991 and has garnered every award imaginable, in the realms of dance, film, theater and TV. There are currently four companies nationwide and several in Europe. Now Broadway San Diego brings the show back to our town.
As for the local connection… the longest-running Santee STOMP veteran is Mike Silva, who attended Hill Creek Elementary and Santana High, graduating in 2001. He’s been performing in STOMP for six years, first in New York, then Vegas, and now on tour.
“It’s been great,” says the percussionist who got his first drum set at age 9. “STOMP has opened my eyes to how big the world is, and how small Santee is. It’s awesome to come back as a success in STOMP.”
Silva was musically busy in high school: he was a member of four different bands, from pop-punk to Afro-Cuban; he served as drum captain in the marching band; and played in the high school jazz band and the Grossmont District Honor Band.
In STOMP, Silva generally performs five or six shows a week. There are 12 cast members on tour, but only eight onstage at any given performance. No need for the gym to keep in shape; the show itself provides a serious workout, says Silva, 28.
He’s looking forward to coming back to his hometown, but the significance of this year isn’t lost on him. It’s the 10th anniversary of the Santana High shooting.
“I was there, in the small quad. At first, I thought it was just pranks; it sounded like ‘black cats’ [firecrackers]. But once I saw people falling to the ground, I ran.
“The event definitely changed me,” Silva admits. “I look at life differently. I realize that nothing is forever. Something like that makes you appreciate what you have.”
Silva owns a house in Las Vegas, and he’s not in San Diego much any more, though he used to teach at Alan’s Music center in La Mesa. “Every chance I get, I stay with my family and stay in my old room,” he says with a chuckle.
When he was a freshman in high school, Mike Silva met Michael (“Mikey”) Landis, who became the guitar player to Silva’s drummer in the band Easily Amused.
Landis moved to Santee when he was 12, and he soon went from guitar to drums (taught by Silva) to STOMP. He’s been on tour for five years.
“I’m seeing all the places I’ve seen on TV, getting to do all these things I’ve always wanted to do,” says Landis. “I’m living my dream every day.
“The first time I saw STOMP, I knew this was what I wanted to do. When I went to New York City to audition,” he recalls, “there were thousands of people. I got there at 5am for a 10am call; I wanted it so bad. There were already hundreds of people there!”
When the tour brings him back to San Diego, Landis makes a beeline for a burrito.
“There’s no Mexican food like in San Diego – anywhere,” he insists. “It’s a big problem in my life. Anyone picks me up at the airport, they know to drive me straight to Pokéz downtown. That’s my place.”
Mike and Mikey are enjoying the new additions to the touring “STOMP” show, including “Paint Cans” and “Donuts,” which involves spinning inner tubes. But even without new routines, Landis remains riveted.
“For me, it’s still fresh and fun,” he says. “It’s still got that same feel as when I first got into the show. People get so inspired watching this show, like I did. You can see that your everyday life doesn’t have to be as boring as it used to be. It’s like this little world, like looking into a snow globe. You shake it, and all kinds of stuff happens. I can look out and see the faces, see how lit up they are.”
While he’s on tour, Landis makes one request of his Santee friends and fans: “Please, eat a burrito for me!”
“STOMP” runs April 19-24, at the Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Avenue, downtown San Diego.
Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm, Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 1pm and 6pm.
Tickets ($17.50-$108.50) are available at the Balboa Ticket Office (1100 Third Ave.), through Ticketmaster (800-982-2787) or at www.BroadwaySD.com