Arts & Culture

April 4, 2014

John Angeles returns to his ‘Stomp’ing grounds

The Fort Worth native now has the lead role in the tour of the percussion-based show, which is being performing at Bass Hall.

When we last spoke with percussionist John Angeles, he was pushing a broom. But, oddly, the Fort Worth native was happy about it.

That’s because he was actually cleaning up in show business as a member of the energetic cast of the hit clang-and-bang spectacle Stomp, in which a tireless group of young people make music (of a sort) with everyday items such as trash cans and frying pans .

“When I first saw this show in junior high, I thought, ‘I want to be that guy doing the broom solo,’ ” the Nolan High and TCU grad told us in 2008. “It’s really a dream come true for me.”

And now Angeles and Stomp are returning for a six-day, eight-performance run at Bass Hall beginning Tuesday. But don’t expect to see Angeles as the broom guy.

“I will be doing the lead in the show,” gushed Angeles about taking on the role of “Sarge” in most of the local performances.

“It is very much an ensemble cast, but there is one guy in the show who leads the audience interaction and tries to conduct the show a little bit,” explained Angeles, who began performing with Stomp in 2007. “He is in more of the show than anybody else, and he is also responsible for the pace of the show. I can choose the dynamics and tempos based on how the crowd is responding that night. If the crowd is not that excited, it’s time to pick up the tempos and drive it and make it a little more exciting.”

Angeles, who will turn 34 during the show’s run in Fort Worth, earned his lead role — and the privilege of being part of the non-touring, off-Broadway New York cast — by logging a lot of time on the nation’s highways.

“There are people who love the road. I’m not one of them,” said Angeles, who now makes his home in Queens. “I feel like I aged 10 years in those four years on the road.”

But one of the perks of having put in those road hours is that Angeles was able to request to do the performances in Fort Worth while his counterpart in the touring cast takes over for him in New York.

“The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is hug my parents. I won’t lie to you,” Angeles said.

He teaches both traditional percussion playing and “body percussion” (the sort of personal noise-making you are likely to hear in a show like Stomp) when he is not doing the show.

Angeles, who earned a degree in music education at TCU, does not feel he is burning out or aging out of Stomp, despite his long tenure with the show.

“There are Stomp-ers who have been at it for 15 or 20 years. It’s not something that gets monotonous. I learn something new every night,” Angeles said. “This was a dream of mine since I saw the show at SMU in Dallas. I’m still living my dream.”

Stomp began in England in 1991; it is an international phenomenon that shows no sign of flagging. In addition to the touring version, the show opened at New York’s Orpheum Theater in 1994 and continues there today. And, over those years, the show has grown and changed.

“People should know that everything you loved about it is still there, and there is more of it,” said Angeles, noting that the assortment of objects-instruments used now includes shopping carts and pipes that can be made to make a sort of “ribbit” sound, leading the cast to refer to them as “frogs.”

But the real pleasures of this visit to his hometown, Angeles said, probably will be much simpler than the complex choreography and odd music-making of Stomp.

“I am just going to enjoy being warm,” he said, alluding to the bitter winter he and his fellow New Yorkers have endured, “and being around nice, loving people.”

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