Stomp vs Lion King: which has more bang for buck?
GROWING up, my brother never stopped drumming.
He would tap on the table, play the steering wheel of the car, and bash out on on anything he could find. It was like there was a beat continually going in his head and he had to get it out somewhere.
Fortunately for him, he made a successful career of his obsession with rhythm.
For me, I can barely clap in time, as my wife and children will attest.
But after spending time with the talented performers in Stomp in New York, I have learnt a thing or two.
Mostly, that you can create music out of almost anything - and take people on a journey without saying a word.
We saw two Broadway shows in New York - firstly Stomp - which is actually off Broadway - and the incredible Lion King.
To be honest, we actually enjoyed Stomp more.
While Lion King is a big, beautiful production, with incredible sets and amazing voices, Stomp, in a smaller theatre, had more energy, laughs and audience participation.
We left feeling we had been part of something - actually involved.
Stomp is located in the East Village which is known for its nightlife - an eclectic blend of dive bars, music venues, cocktail lounges, and trendy restaurants.
Stomp was created by Luke Creswell and Steve McNicholas and has been performed in New York since 1994.
The British duo sum up their approach in a study guide to the show which reminded me of my brother Peter as I read it.
"People drum their fingers on table tops when they are waiting for something to happen. They tap their feet when they are bored. They walk in rhythm quite naturally when they walk down the street and jangle keys in their pocket. Yes, everything has a rhythm to it. Everything has music to it."
The show progresses beautifully, from the soft sweeping of brooms, to the explosive sounds of banging drums.
But it's the expressions of the performers, a couple in particular, which raise laughs from the audience throughout.
Music, theatre and dance combine to entertain for the hour and 45 minutes.
There is a real flow to the show - something that has been deliberately created through the chaos and clanging which features instruments as diverse as shopping trolleys and yes, the kitchen sink.
One of the most incredible scenes is when all the performers line up with lighters, clicking them on and off in such perfect sequence you are left wondering how long it took to learn it and how they repeat it night after night.
Luke believes people can make music out of anything - from tapping on an old Coke can to tossing pebbles on a beach.
On YouTube, some of the performers from Stomp show how you can create sounds out of paper and plastic bags.
"Using junk , household and industrial objects, by its very nature, challenges the issue of waste and challenges the notion of culture as being highbrow or detached,'' Steve says in a study guide for Stomp.
"That is, you don't have to buy a cello or a drum kit to make music.''
"There's also an element of ritual in our our work: everyone generally comments that some of the pieces in the show are almost tribal.''
Ultimately, the aim is to amuse, uplift and inspire.
Looking at the expressions on my wife and son's faces throughout the show, they certainly did that.
WATCH: Alessia Cara performs "Wild Things" with Stomp at WE Day
HOW THE PROMOTERS DESCRIBE STOMP
Stomp is a joyful, witty and wordless show that has been seen all over the world. An eight-member cast with energy to burn creates beautiful music and sly humor with found objects: Zippo lighters, push brooms, wooden poles, hammer handles, garbage cans, inner tubes, matchboxes-and yes, even the kitchen sink.
There's no traditional narrative; both household and industrial objects find new life as musical instruments in this unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy. It is a journey through sound, a celebration of the everyday and a comic interplay of characters wordlessly communicating through dance and drum.
TICKETS start at $49, making it one of the best buys in New York.
For more information: https://www.broadwayinbound.com/shows/stomp-new-york-ny/
Mark Furler is group digital editor for News Regional Media and recently travelled to New York for a family holiday. His brother Peter Furler, a drummer, singer and songwriter, founded Newsboys, one of Australia's most successful music exports. The band recently celebrated 10 million album sales.