Stepping Out by Richard Harris

 
Theatre Royal Bath

 

This latest production of Stepping Out, directed by Maria Friedman opens in Bath prior to touring before landing in the West End next spring. Without question the cast are drawn from a who’s who of popular female TV personalities; which has clearly ensured excellent ticket sales for the run at the Theatre Royal.

 

There is a fondness for this piece by Richard Harris. Written in 1984 it is the touching and heart – warming comedy which follows the lives of seven women and one man attempting to learn how to tap dance at a local dance class and eventually preparing for a performance. Understandably the women are fairly stereotypical and yet over the course of several months we meet the group, and all of them have a story to tell.

  

Amanda Holden (Vera) steals the show with her superb timing. Channelling the 1980’s shoulder pads with huge style and ease; there is a depth to Vera that is missing in other characters. Tamzin Outhwaite (Mavis) the unsuccessful, unfulfilled dancer turned teacher fights to bring the class to order; whilst enjoying a dream like sequence of time gone by including a cheeky nod to Chicago. Judith Baker (Mrs Fraser) is a fine example of a cantankerous rehearsal pianist with a moment of true glory in Act 2.

  

The pace is a little unbalanced with the set and costumes a little too polished to be believable. However, the era is captured beautifully and the finale is an uplifting and rousing end to the show.

 

If the reception from the full house last night is an indication of the success that this production will enjoy regionally then it is certainly on the right track.
    

*** – 3 Stars

  

Petra Schofield