After receiving my ticket and a cheerful “Enjoy the show!” from the
man at will call, I head toward the auditorium. A volunteer beckons
me and gladly scans my ticket, offers a program and echoes the warm
wishes from the box office before I enter the auditorium and find my
The murmur of conversation gradually increases to an excited buzz as
families, students and couples trickle in until the venue’s maroon
seats are packed. Onstage, barrels, brooms and scaffolding covered
with a jumble of trash can lids, road signs and various other city
flotsam make it look like a portal to a New York City junkyard. For
those familiar with the show, the cluttered collage hints at the
musical magic that awaits.
At 7:30 p.m., a man dressed in tattered street clothes emerges with
a broom. He could pass for a stagehand as he starts sweeping, but as
the lights fade, the audience hushes to hear every slow,
methodical swish. This is what they have been waiting for. The
award-winning show that has consistently sold out theaters all over
the world and captivated New York audiences 11,472 times for 29
years has arrived in Aggieland.
Soon, Rudder is reverberating with rhythm as the eight performers
weave swishes, thumps, bangs, claps, clicks, rustles and stomps into
music, using nothing but ordinary objects like brooms, matches,
paper, trash cans, suitcases, shopping carts and even the kitchen
sink. From the first moments, a smile spreads across
my face as I’m caught up in the performance. The audience around me
feels it, too, laughing, cheering and nodding to the
beat as they get lost in the show.
But there was much more to the group’s College Station appearance
than the 105-minute performance. The memorable night resulted
from countless hours of preparation by the students, staff and
volunteers of Texas A&M University’s OPAS. A unique partnership
among students, the university and local community members, the
organization has brought such talent to the area as the London
Philharmonic Orchestra, Carol Burnett, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson,
“Rent,” “Les Misérables,” and numerous other top theater, music and
Like the rhythms of “STOMP,” it takes a lot of skillful coordination
to consistently bring captivating entertainment to Aggieland, but
OPAS has been making it look effortless for 50 seasons.
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