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The creators of 'Stomp' are bringing 'Pandemonium' to L.A.

October 18, 2010 | 12:30 pm

Plumpet-photo The folks behind the percussive theatrical hit "Stomp" are bringing their new production, the whimsically symphonic "Pandemonium," to UCLA's Royce Hall in November.

Their goal, co-creator Luke Cresswell tells Culture Monster from London, is not just to put on a "one-of-a-kind" show, but also to get the word out about what kind of show this really is. That's important, he says, because "Pandemonium" recently cut short its U.S. tour "in large part because we needed to do a better job of helping people understand what we're up to."

In "Stomp," which will mark its 20th anniversary next year, a small troupe of performer-drummers uses everyday objects to produce a high-powered blend of rhythmic sound and physical theater.

"Pandemonium" features an orchestra of sorts that takes the found-object idea one step further by playing instruments such as the "plumpet" -- a combination of plumber's pipe and traffic cone (see photo) -- while being conducted by Cresswell and joined by a local choir. Giant bellows, saws standing in for violins, and timpani made of soup cauldrons create what Cresswell calls "a visual piece of theater in itself as well as these great layers of sounds you've never heard."

The production is big, expensive and complex, he says, which may have contributed to its troubles in America. "Pandemonium," which debuted in England in 2006, was a box-office success in Sydney, London and Amsterdam. It came to the United States in September, playing in Miami and Raleigh, N.C., before canceling dates in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston.

"It was frustrating," says Cresswell, who created "Stomp" and "Pandemonium" with Steve McNicholas. "The audiences we had were going crazy, but it didn't get the sales it needed." The tough economy was a problem, as was the fact that this is "such a mad, maverick kind of show," he says, explaining that people weren't sure if it would be an orchestral concert, a musical or another "Stomp."

Cresswell and his colleagues already had been negotiating to add L.A. to their itinerary. Even with the tour ending, they decided they should head West. "Los Angeles has a great population of artists doing different things. ... People are a bit more daring to see something, and, hopefully, that will give us a good platform to come back."

He notes that "Stomp," which itself is hard to classify, got a boost from a 1994 appearance at the Wadsworth Theatre. Nearby Royce Hall is a good fit for "Pandemonium," he adds, because it presents a wide range of programming, and "we knew there it wouldn't be marketed as a Broadway show."

"Pandemonium" will run for four performances, Nov. 16-18. Tickets go on sale Wednesday.

-- Karen Wada

Photo: A scene from "Pandemonium." Credit: Steve McNicholas

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