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"I first saw Stomp! when I was 14," Chris Rubio tells me via phone from New Haven, Connecticut. He is in the current production, which will be coming to San Diego in March. "I started drumming away on trash cans. When I was 22, I auditioned, got in." He's 24 now.

He describes Stomp! as "an exploration in sound" using nontraditional instruments -- brooms, Zippo lighters, hubcaps, plastic bags; you name it, they'll beat it.

I ask, "Is this the same rehearsed show every night?"

"I'd say 85 percent of it is."

When he's not home, his mother, Yvonne, runs the Chris Rubio Dance Studio in Rancho San Diego (between Spring Valley and El Cajon). "We've been open for three years," he says, "with 200 students now."

"Were there gang problems at Valhalla when you attended?"

"Not that I remember," he says, "but I graduated in 1999, before things started to get bad, just before Columbine and Santana and all those other shootings."

Stomp! performs at the San Diego Civic Theatre, 110 Third Avenue, on March 8--13, Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 5:00 and 9:00 p.m., and Sunday 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Tickets go for $24--$70. Call the Civic Theatre box office at 619-570-1100 for more information.

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