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Stomp 'til you drop
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Though Stomp is anything but a new concept -- the percussion/dance phenomenon first hit the world in 1991 -- current cast member Leilani Dibble says it never gets old.

“The reason the show has appealed to a lot of people for so long is that it maintains its freshness through the cast members,” says the young San Francisco native, now in her third year with Stomp.

“It stays new and fresh because of the people they hire. That makes it fresh both for us and for audiences.”

In case you just reentered modern civilization after living alone in a remote Saharan cave for the last 15 years, Stomp is an enormously popular stage show in which the energetic young cast members use any number of common, everyday objects to beat out a variety of gripping and powerful rhythms while interacting in a series of vignettes.

While the show is a percussionist’s paradise, Dibble says the cast is not limited to trained drummers.

“A lot of the cast came in as dancers and drummers, but a lot also came in actors or mechanics. We get all walks of life -- but yes, mostly drummers,” she says.

“It’s been very interesting, because you can be the best ballet dancer or the best drummer going into the audition, but if they put a broom in your hand and ask you to play a rhythm, it puts everybody at the auditions on an even scale,” she says. “Most people don’t practice with a broom or a plunger or something random.”

Like most Stomp cast members, Dibble’s background includes percussion and dance.

“I’ve been dancing ever since I was a little girl. I was a tap dancer, so I was tapping my feet all the time. It would drive my teachers crazy,” she says. “I’m sure that happens to a lot of people that end up as drummers.”

Dibble says even with her background, “it took awhile to get used to playing awkward items, let alone doing that with seven other people. But after a while you get comfortable with what you’re using.”

She says there are “no conventional instruments at all onstage -- if the scene says that the only thing around us is garbage, then we all play with garbage.”

Dibble does allow that cast members will occasionally use conventional drumsticks, however -– if only to “play on trashcans and pots and pans.”

So without a conductor or frontman or starring role, how do the percussionists of Stomp keep their collective act together?

“The vibe onstage is dictated by the characters onstage. I wouldn’t say there’s anything like a lead drummer or a lead musician. It’s not like in a snare line where everybody follows the center guy,” Dibble explains.

“It’s more of an ensemble -- all of us doing our part to make the music. All of us keep our eyes and ears open and focus and communicate with each other without using words. We keep eye contact and try and listen in.”

While Dibble says Stomp is physically challenging, she intends to stay in the cast as long as she possibly can.

“I’m still having a lot of fun and I’m still learning so really right now no intentions of leaving. I’m happy that I don’t have anything pulling me away from the show right now,” she says. “I just hope my body holds up.”

Stomp is performed Tues. Nov. 22 and Weds. Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. at the Johnny Mercer Theatre. Tix are $25, $35 and $45; call 651-6556.