Stepping Out

Date 6th August 2022
Society Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society
Venue The Georgian Theatre Royal
Type of Production Play
Director Lynne Kerr
Choreographer Maureen Mundell
Written By Richard Harris

Report

Author: John Holliday

When you think of a show like Stepping Out you instantly think of Tap Routines and whilst RADS carried this off with great effect what they truly captured was making these characters and their stories believable.

Stepping Out tells the story of a mish-mash group of wannabe tap dancers and their amateur dance class led by the ambitious and dedicated Mavis, brilliantly played by Joanne Mason. Joanne in her enthusiastic manner whilst not puffing on a cigarette convinces the group of varied ability to enter them into a showcase number to mixed receptions from the group.

Ably assisted by Mrs Fraser played very effectively by Susie Ordish who excelled in her dry wit, sarcastic humour and dramatic walkouts, Mavis worked against all the odds to turn this group into the stars of the new 42nd Street.

With a basic yet very effective set which had the perfect look of a run-down village hall, Lynne Kerr as director of the show worked wonders to use every inch of the compact Georgian Theatre stage, and even with bags, chairs and pianos swamping the stage you never panicked over any accidents despite 9 cast members tapping their way around the stage.

Lynne put together a great cast with lots of changes since rehearsals began 3 years ago and whilst I can’t comment on who was originally cast the 10 strong cast were brilliant in every aspect.  Lynne clearly has worked so hard with every cast member to look within the script and allow the actors to find the stories behind the tapping.

Nicola Bryan took on the nervous character of Andy, a character clearly using the rehearsals as her escape from a poor married life and it was brilliant to see her handle not only the shy side of the character but the change as she takes a grip on her life and kicks her cheating husband into touch.

In complete contrast we had the bossy busybody of Vera, a wonderful performance of this character by Wendy Morris. A newcomer to the group who inadvertently manages to wind every member of the group, from her over confidence of dance ability to doing every job around the village hall, Wendy even managed to get annoyed with her. The one-liner putdowns were fantastic, I am still laughing at the “Oh I used to be fat" line somehow being used in an attempt at building friendship,

Nerves were certainly a big factor in a lot of the characters, many people use these classes to try and overcome fear and Lynne and Dorothy played Marie Claire Smith and Stephanie McAulay respectively, were 2 great examples of this. Both constantly apologizing and trying to hide in the background, they were not only fabulous in their character portrayal but also very convincing in acting like they could not tap that well – this Is not an easy skill at all.

Bouncing around the stage was the wonderful Maxine, played by Helena Langford with such brilliant energy and strength. Cleary a central figure in the group, her pushing of her own clothes lines and fashion advice was a joy to watch.

One of the most energetic performances came from Carole White, playing Rose. In every scene she gave us such warmth and positive energy as she bounded around the stage, the only thing more positive was her determination to get to the pub with her partner in crime, Sylvia played by Jodie Martin.

Jodie gave us the performance of the night, sharp one-liners, brilliant comical timing and a great ability to still be acting when not involved were a joy to watch. A very lively, attention-grabbing character hiding her own insecurities within herself. A wonderful portrayal of a complex character.

Surrounded by all of these dominant women you felt quite sorry for the solo male in the group. Hen pecked and teased into submission was Geoffrey, played by Paul Mason. Paul managed to capture the nervous and shy character expertly and as his confidence grew, we really saw him develop, not only in his tap but in himself. His incompetent flirting with Andy was brilliant to watch and made us warm to him even more.

With Lynne ably assisted by a strong technical team a huge shout out has to be given to Maureen Mundell who choreographed and taught the group to tap. Maureen previously choreographed the show when RADS performed it over 25 years ago and the build up to this show must have felt as long with a 3 year build up. There were huge hurdles to overcome but the end routines were slick and tight and gave the show an amazing ending. Huge praise must go to Lynne, Maureen and every cast member for the vast amount of time they have put in to get to this level and to give the audience of Richmond a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

Thank you to RADS as always for an extremely warm welcome but more importantly on a sensational performance. I can’t wait to see your return to Shakespeare in the Autumn