By ANDREW MARTON
FORT WORTH - STOMP celebrates that most primal of musical instincts: Take one surface. Put it in contact with another. And presto, a rhythm is born.
For two hours Tuesday evening, before a head-bobbing Bass Hall audience, the eight-member troupe of STOMP - the season-opening show for Casa Mañana's Broadway at the Bass series - tapped out one irresistible, hand-clapping beat after another.
But to dwell on the entire menu of slinky and smooth, funky and chunky rhythms carved out by STOMP's talented ensemble risks neglecting the show's more subtle pleasures. Over the course of more than 12 drumming vignettes - call them drum-ettes - these percussionists (including Fort Worth native John Angeles) were also gifted mimes, able to elicit great peals of audience laughter by silently raising a quizzical eyebrow.
And then there was the performers' special brand of choreography, where they created concussive rhythms from a gladiatorial hand-to-hand combat with trash-can lids.
But STOMP, a global phenomenon for 14 years, will always be about the genesis of different beats from the most unexpected of sources.
Often, the most mundane objects - a matchbox, a janitor's broom, a crumpled newspaper and super-size laundry basket - produced the greatest torrents of rhythm. One of the evening's melodic highlights was a sequence involving different sizes of rubber tubing, each generating a chime-y wood-block tone reminiscent of Asian music.
Easily STOMP's most impressive surrogate for traditional drums was the performers' own bodies. Taut torsos became timpani, splayed fingers converted to drum-sticks, and bare arms produced the splashy sound of a snare drum.
Actors speak reverentially about their bodies being their prime instruments. Last night, on Fort Worth's most prestigious stage, eight Stompers pounded home that well-worn adage.
STOMP times vary. Continues through Sunday.
$29 - $69
817-332-2272 or www.casamanana.org