Alexis Juliano was first on a national stage in 2013 as a contestant on the TV series “So You Think You Can Dance.”
But did she think she could “Stomp”?
That would be a definite no, the Coral Springs, Fla., native said.
“Yes, I am a tap dancer and am familiar with rhythm,” Juliano said in a phone interview from a “Stomp” stop in Fort Myers, Fla., “but it was always with my feet and never with my hands.”
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“Stomp” returns to Century II for the first time since 2013, closing out the Broadway Theatre League season Wednesday and Thursday nights.
Juliano had seen performances of “Stomp” when she was 7 and 12 but had never pictured herself on stage with the company.
“I didn’t know how attainable it was to me, because it’s a drumming show, and I’m not a drummer at all,” the 22-year-old said. “So when I saw it, I thought it would be amazing to do, but I don’t know if it’s really possible.”
Her mind was changed two years ago after a chance meeting with the company’s rehearsal director, who encouraged her to audition.
Through a three-day audition process, she tried “body percussion,” making music on her person; a drum solo via the lids of garbage cans; and a four-measure solo on industrial-sized drums.
“It wasn’t very good,” she said. “I was going in thinking it would be a fun experience. I was not confident at all of anything except a learning experience.”
To her amazement, she received word that she was cast in the show. “Stomp” has three different companies: an American touring version, a European touring cast and a cast on Broadway, where “Stomp” has been a fixture since 1994.
“They want people who aren’t perfect, people who they can teach and who can grow with the show,” Juliano said.
Originally created in 1991 in the United Kingdom, “Stomp” puts its cast of six men and two women in various situations to create a unique percussion sound from matchboxes, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters and more.
Juliano said there was and still is a learning curve after being cast in the show.
“I’m still learning even to this day, which is kind of cool and refreshing,” she said.
The show makes changes through the years, she said, and is far different from the one she saw in her preteen years.
“There are new numbers that get put in every three to five years,” Juliano said. “We do a number with shopping carts, and that was only added about five years ago – which is nice because it keeps the show fresh. The show’s been around for over 20 years, so if the audience comes back, they’ll see a new show – which is cool.”
Juliano made the Top 14 of “So You Think You Can Dance” but said there weren’t many similarities between that competition and life in “Stomp.”
“They’re so opposite in many ways that they didn’t overlap too much,” she said. “Yes, it got me into the mindset of doing it as a career and how to handle auditions. But even the audition process was different, because I was used to dance auditions.”
The cast members traveling the country on a tour bus become close, she said.
“It’s easier to do that on tour because we’re so close, and we have to hang out,” she said. “It doesn’t take long to become close-knit and a family, because everybody knows everything about everyone.”
Currently on her third tour, Juliano has made her way to 48 states – all but Alaska and Hawaii – and doesn’t see an end in sight.
“I don’t like to stop until I feel very, very confident in it. I still feel like I’ve learned a lot with ‘Stomp,’ and I’d like to keep learning,” she said. “I’m not ready to say goodbye to ‘Stomp’ just yet.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday
Where: Century II Performance Hall, 225 W. Douglas
What: The touring production of the Broadway hit returns for the first time since 2013
Tickets: $35-$90, available at wichitatix.com or 316-303-8100. Show is mostly sold out.