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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Local performer makes noise in ‘STOMP’

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Elec Simon, who will be in “STOMP” at E.J. Thomas Hall Feb. 15-16, is a former University of Akron football player.
Photo courtesy of Elec Simon
DOWNTOWN AKRON — When he first saw percussion-dance sensation “STOMP” on stage in New York City on a high school trip, Elec Simon knew it was the show for him.

“I was like, ‘I do that stuff already,’” said Simon, who will appear in “STOMP” at The University of Akron’s (UA) E.J. Thomas Hall Feb. 15-16. “‘STOMP’ is pretty much me; that defines me.”

Appearing as a performer in the show became a goal for him then. He wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in his Bible, he said, and it continued to be a dream for the Smithfield native after he headed to UA, where he played football for two years.

The chance to audition for “STOMP” came in 2002 in Boston.

“My family members pulled together and got me a ticket,” he said. “The line was wrapped around the building; there were between 800 to 1,000 that auditioned that day.”

Over the course of several days, Simon’s name was one that kept getting called back, until he was one of the select few chosen for the show.

Since that time, Simon, 31, has toured with the show internationally and performed in the New York production, he said. Some of his favorite tour stops were Hawaii, Vancouver, Buenos Aires and Peru, he said, but he noted the audiences in Anchorage, Alaska, were the most enthusiastic he’s ever seen.

“STOMP,” created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, began as street performance in the United Kingdom with performers making music out of trash cans, bottles and anything else but instruments. Today there are four ongoing global productions: permanent shows in theaters in New York and London and tours in the United States and Europe.

The show was last at E.J. Thomas in 2007, according to officials there. Simon said the creators have worked to keep the show fresh after 20 years by continually bringing in new material.

“We still have brooms, but we have a new number called ‘Donuts’ and a shopping-cart number called ‘Trolleys,’” he said. “It’s always changing.”

Today, Simon’s base is in Canton, where he lives with his wife and children. He said once you’re a cast member of “STOMP,” you’re always a cast member, so today he fills in on local dates as needed. He said he loves seeing people in the audience that he knows.

In Northeast Ohio, Simon is also trying to make a difference through performances at schools in an effort to combat bullying. He uses percussion and rhythm in a program he presents to students. Recently he visited Fort Island Primary School in Fairlawn, and he’s scheduled to appear at Resnik Community Learning Center in West Akron this spring.

The effort is an outgrowth of work he’s done in prisons.

“I’ll have four or five different gangs that drum next to each other,” he said of those performances. “They’re not thinking about what gang they’re in or that they are in prison. They’re drumming together as a team.”

Simon said he’s thankful for what he’s achieved in life and wants to give back to others through his talents.

“It’s great to be on Broadway and travel the world, but it doesn’t mean nothing if you’re not changing lives,” Simon said.

Performances of “STOMP” begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745-3000, in person at the Thomas Hall Ticket Office and all TicketMaster outlets or at www.stomponline.com. Groups of 15 or more can call 855-824-3405. E.J. Thomas Hall is located at 198 Hill St. on the UA campus. For more information on Simon, go to www.elecsimon.com.

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