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November 21, 2007

Stepping Out

Warm and very funny: I absolutely adored “Stepping Out”, a delightful comedy by Richard Harris, brought to life by a great band of actors. I actually suspect that some of them may even have been playing themselves! We saw a disparate group of people thrown together by the loneliness, banality or sheer ghastliness of their lives. The class starts as more of a social club but under the expert hand (or feet, really) of Mavis (played and choreographed by Alison Hudson), the group is gradually enthused to the extent that we would not have thought possible.

I loved the contrast between the cheerful Mavis and Mrs Fraser (wonderfully played by Margaret Johnson in curmudgeonly mode) and the contrast between the sensible measured Lynne (Lucinda Rowe) and the shy rather ineffectual Geoffrey (Mark Savage) on the one hand with the raunchy over the top Sylvia (Jill Rogers) and the cheeky sparrow Rose (Lorna Sexton) on the other.

We learned quickly that each character had something to hide about their lives. Vera (Penny Picken) was not the happy homemaker after all. Maxine (Valmai Guess) struggled with her stepson. Even Dorothy (Amanda Vines) bore the perceived stigma of working for the Social Services.

We sensed too, the tragedy in this endearing play: Andy (Rachel Taylor in a very uncomfortable role) is being beaten by her husband; Mavis is pregnant by an unsupportive partner. Neither of these matters is clearly resolved. Does Geoffrey run off with Andy? Will Mavis have her baby, partner or not? And, what is happening between Vera’s husband and her daughter? We will never know unless Richard Harris writes a sequel.

Of course, I mustn’t forget the ‘invisible’ members of the cast, the ever so slightly camp Stage Manager (Paul Kerswill) and the more fulsome Announcer (Edward Picken). Apologies to ‘Woman’ (Ann Fausset) – I had to attend the play a second time to see her, so well did she blend in.

When the finale came it was truly spectacular. A gentleman in the audience remarked that he couldn’t believe how fabulous the class looked – I’m sure that included Geoffrey too.

Congratulations to Susie Welch and Betty Turner for their courage and vision, ably assisted by a hardworking crew without which no production is possible. A wonderfully entertaining evening, yet again.
[Review by: Rosie Hamilton-McLeod]

Directors  -  Susie Welch & Betty Turner
Producer  -  Ed Picken

Andy  -  Rachel Taylor
Announcer  -  Ed Picken
Dorothy  -  Amanda Vines
Geoffrey  -  Mark Savage
Lynne  -  Lucinda Rowe
Mavis  -  Alison Hudson
Maxine  -  Valmai Guess
Mrs Fraser  -  Margaret Johnson
Rose  -  Lorna Sexton
Stage Manager  -  Paul Kerswill
Sylvia  -  Jill Rogers
Vera  -  Penny Picken
Woman  -  Ann Fausset

Bar  -  Malcolm Brodie
Choreographer  -  Alison Hudson
Costumes  -  Stella Turner
Costumes  -  Nikki Clark
Director  -  Susie Welch
Director  -  Betty Turner
Front of House  -  Derek Jarrett
Hair  -  Fran Manning
Ice creams  -  Pam Finbow
Lighting  -  Stuart Clark
Lighting  -  Peter Johnson
Photography  -  Dave Woodward
Producer  -  Ed Picken
Programme Design  -  Sarah Oliver
Programme Seller  -  Janet Quinn
Programme Seller  -  Janet Tackley
Programme Seller  -  Mary Hollingdale
Prompt  -  Sue Kennedy
Props  -  Liz Gentle
Props  -  Ann Fausset
Props  -  Liz Chapman
Publicity  -  Peter Donovan
Rehearsal & Pre-show Pianist  -  Ted Turner
Set Construction  -  Dudley Gentle
Set Construction  -  Graham Gibbs
Sound  -  Dave Wallace
Stage Crew  -  Val Bryant
Stage Manager  -  Dudley Gentle

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