30th May 2019
Type of Production
Author: Mark Hall
Stepping Out tells the story of a group of everyday people attending a tap dance class. There are good dancers and not so good dancers. People from all walks of life and the characters are colourful and were portrayed with a wonderful depth to them. The story culminates in this rag tag bunch of amateurs performing in a charity gala.
For me, there were some themes explored in the script which felt unresolved by the end of the production. What happened between Geoffrey and Andy, the domestic abuse sub-plot could have been resolved, who told on Terry and what happened with Mavis’s unwanted news. These are gripes with the script though, certainly not the performances.
With a small cast of 10 principal roles and no ensemble, there is no place to hide for the performers and each needs to bring their best to keep the audience engaged for the duration. Not only did this talented cast achieve exactly that, their claim of not being able to differentiate the “real” tap dancers from the “never tapped befores” was also correct. The final number was perfectly in time and the “three Ts”, so frequently referred to in the script were in abundance.
Sophie Bradshaw was an exceptionally patient teacher in Mavis (except when she finally lost her cool with people just not getting the routine), Caroline Denholm’s Maxine had sass and pizazz, Chrys Tarr played the “in everybody's business, just being friendly” snooty Vera with exceptional aplomb. Andy, played by Claire Atkins, was suitably timid and prickly whilst, in stark contrast, Louise Paton played loudmouth, “don’t care what anyone thinks” Sylvia to perfection. Michelle French’s Rose was flamboyant whilst scatty Dorothy, played by Diane Barksfield, was insanely likeable. Izi Gaff played Lynne as a quiet, determined, dreamer and Jill Bowe was fantastic as the feisty Mrs Fraser. I thoroughly enjoyed all the performances, but special mention should go to Simon King as the only male in the main cast. Similar in appearance to Clark Kent in disguise, he truly was a superman in performance. His mannerisms and characterisation were remarkable.
It is a true testament to the cast and the creative team to achieve such chemistry and for each individual performance to be of such a high standard.
The lighting, provided by Paul Ruse and Dragon Event Services was simple yet effective. The sound felt well balanced and the cast projected well. The costumes were subtly crafted to suggest each of the characters' personalities.
The scene changes felt very protracted and there were instances where the lit stage was empty. Whether this was to allow the music to finish or late entrances, it did unfortunately, break the otherwise excellent pace.
But take nothing away from a hilariously funny production which was very well executed and thoroughly entertaining. It is clear that the cast thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I did also.