Wellington Theatre Company’s production of ‘Stepping Out’, now well into rehearsal, promises to deliver another hit for the company. Many will remember the production of ‘Calendar Girls’ in 2013 for its pure, good-hearted entertainment value and classy performances – and ‘Stepping Out’ works in a similar way – but with the cast remaining fully clothed this time.
Richard Harris’s play about a disparate group of erstwhile tap dancers puts together seven women of varying ages (and varying abilities), their teacher, a grumpy pianist and a solitary man. It places them in a dingy church hall for their weekly tap lessons and in a local bar for post-tap drinks where social interaction exposes more than their faulty footwork. An invitation to take part in a local charity show ramps up the pressure on the group and preparing for the performance is anything but relaxed.
The broad comedy of the play comes from some cracking one liners, the women’s banter and innuendo and not a little farce as each one grapples with the demands of new skills and individual inadequacies. There’s much comic mileage to be found in their grapplings with varying degrees of incompetence.
Anyone who has ever joined a recreational activity or adult education group (or even a drama group!) will recognise the different character types in the class – the flashy, confident individual, the reserved, anxious type, the eager one – all from different backgrounds and with different experiences. Harris’s play allows their contrasting personalities and attributes to be explored and gently reveals issues in each of their private lives – in some cases with poignant effect.
The company’s most recent shows – not least the outstanding production of Dennis Potter’s ‘Blue Remembered Hills’ – is evidence of exciting quality in the group, both in performance and technically. Tracey Hamilton, who directs ‘Stepping Out’, has been ‘headhunted’ from her base in Exeter to take on this show, having directed it before and with experience of teaching tap. She is working with a fine cast of experienced WTC regulars, all very obviously enjoying rehearsals even while handling tap shoes, canes, hats and scripts. The audience will enjoy this production too!
‘Stepping Out’ opens at Wellington Arts Centre, Eight Acre Lane, on Wednesday 30 March and runs until Saturday 2 April at 7.30pm with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets are on sale at Odette’s Tea Room in the High Street, online from www.wellingtonartscentre.co.uk or by phone on 0844 997 9000.