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STOMP it up
The 22-year-old Broadway show wakes up Victoria
After a sold-out run of Mamma Mia last summer, Broadway is back in Victoria.
STOMP kicks off its North American tour at the Royal Theatre this week, the result of a lot of hard work from Victoria-raised artistic producer Henry Kolenko.
"It's quite challenging to bring shows to Victoria, not just because it's an Island but because the venue is booked almost the whole year through," says Kolenko. "It took me a few years to bring a show here."
Instead of jousting with the Victoria Symphony, Opera and various dance companies for a fall season spot at the Royal Theatre, Kolenko decided to throw caution to the wind and book the theatre in the summer months last season. It proved such a success, he's doing it again.
"I wanted to do it with a show that had a lot of drawing power, and Mamma Mia was just off the charts last year," he says. "We sold out, and we broke Royal Theatre history of most tickets sold in a day."
STOMP's crew made a brief appearance in Victoria last February during Dance Victoria's Dance Days to give locals a taste of the show.
To boost excitement even further, organizers are planning a similar preview in Langford, albeit on a slightly bigger scale.
"We've talked to the mayor of Langford, Stew Young, and he's actually shutting down downtown," Kolenko says.
On Monday, Goldstream Avenue will close at 6 p.m. so the whole cast can perform street shows for the passing crowd.
"Every show is its own unique entity and needs to be brought into the community with respect," Kolenko says. "And the community of Victoria is a very sophisticated community. The people that want to go see theatre have travelled a lot and have seen theatre all over, so we're very selective in how we bring a show in and how we marry it to the community."
Because STOMP uses a unique combination of choreography, percussion and physical comedy, there's no language barrier, which has helped the show expand to more than 50 countries and 25 million people, Kolenko says.
"It's done in a way that's very accessible. People come out of it and say, 'I didn't know it would be so funny.'"
Kolenko attended Mount Douglas secondary before ending up on Broadway in New York for several years. When he came back to the West Coast, he wanted to bring some of the entertainment he'd seen to a local audience.
"Victoria was one of the last big markets in Canada that didn't have broadway shows coming in regularly," he says.
While he was hoping to bring Jersey Boys to the Royal for 2014, the back of house isn't big enough for the performance, he says.
"The show just won't fit. That's another challenge, finding shows that are at the right stage in their cycle for a venue like the Royal Theatre."
Nonetheless, Kolenko promises STOMP will be worth the $79.50 to $89.75 ticket price, and is hopeful Broadway fever will sweep Greater Victoria once again.
"The show is selling extremely well but there are still tickets," he says.
STOMP originally premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1991, and made its way to Broadway in New York City by 1994. The show is still running in London's West End and has an off-Broadway show in Manhattan.
The show opens Tuesday, Aug. 27 and runs until Sunday, Sept. 1.
Visit broadwayinvictoria.com or call 250-386-6121 for tickets.