by Richard Harris
Stepping Out is a hugely popular play that won the 1984 Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy. It follows the lives of seven women and one man (Geoffrey, the ‘doormat’) who meet at a weekly dance class in a dingy North London church hall to tap their troubles away, accompanied by miserable, moaning pianist Mrs Fraser. Led by the patient ex-professional Mavis, the group begin their journey with two left feet and end up exceeding all expectations when they are asked to perform in a public charity gala.
Playgoers’ veteran Pat Brinicombe, who took part in a previous Playgoers’ production, now returns as director. And some of the performers have real-life experience of joining tap dance classes as mature students, though they never won any competitions!
Come and enjoy a trip back to the 1980s with this feel-good show, full of comedy gold.
A Workington Playgoers Production
Photographs by Chris Lewis Photography
This show has been performed at the Theatre Royal in the past. Click here to look back at our previous production – and enjoy browsing through our extensive archive of past shows.
Photographs of the Dress Rehearsal by Jenni Rushton
Step Out in West Cumbria and enjoy an award winning comedy
A serious amount of toe-tapping can be heard emanating from Workington’s Theatre Royal as the Playgoers perform their latest feel-good play, Stepping Out by Richard Harris.
Written in the 1980s, there are some wonderful reminders of the period with touches such as leg warmers, hairstyles and the blissful omission of mobile technology. Yet the underlying issues of the plot are still just as relevant today, as people from different walks of life, step out to the tap class for very different reasons, and are able to unite through a common love of dance.
This play has won awards for comedy, and each character delivers laugh out loud lines. But the mannerisms of the characters had me in stitches too. This is especially true of no airs and graces Sylvia, played by Alyson Douglas, who does an amazing job of portraying a learner tap dancer, and comes with an endless supply of chewing gum and attitude.
Pat Brinicombe, director, played Rose in the 1993 version that the Playgoers did. Though the very obvious difference between then and now is in the audience turnout. In the 90s Pat said queues for the show stretched down Washington Street and ‘house full’ signs were needed outside the theatre for the entire week. But now bookings are low. She hopes that people will be tempted to come for a night out, have a drink and enjoy a live performance, which surely has the edge on anything that the TV or social media can offer. Janet Whitehead also appeared in the 1993 production, in the role of Maxine, and now takes the part of no nonsense and grumpy pianist Mrs Fraser. In a complete coincidence her actual grand daughter, Emma Morgan, plays the part of Maxine in this 2019 production. This is not the only family connection. In one poignant scene Jo Ritson, who plays former professional dancer and class tutor Mavis, is in the church hall and dances when she thinks she is alone. Her hopes and aspirations to be a dancer from a young age are conveyed through an expertly performed routine by Jo and real life daughter, nine year old Abbie Ritson. Jo also choreographed all the dancing in the show and is perfect for the role of Mavis.
Pat said: “The cast thoroughly enjoyed themselves and learned to tap dance in just a couple of months. Jo Ritson did the coaching and plays the dance coach. We see different women with different tensions coming together.”
The seven women and one man are invited to take part in a charity gala. Sit back and enjoy their journey as the group strives for dancing perfection in time for the gala, while juggling the rigours of everyday life.
Stepping Out runs until Saturday April 6 at Theatre Royal, Workington. Performances start at 7.30pm. Tickets, at £11.50 (£10.50 concessions), are available online or on the door, or by leaving a message on 01900 603161.
Times & Star review
Workington Playgoers put their best foot forward in comedy Stepping Out
Workington Playgoers are busy rehearsing the popular 1980s feel-good show Stepping Out by Richard Harris, which they will perform at the Theatre Royal, Workington, early next month.
Written in the 1980s, Stepping Out won the 1984 Evening Standard award for best comedy.
The story follows the lives of seven women and one man (Geoffrey, the ‘doormat’) who meet at a weekly dance class in a dingy North London church hall to tap their troubles away.
The group are accompanied by miserable, moaning pianist Mrs Fraser.
Led by the patient ex-professional Mavis, the beginners start their journey with two left feet and end up exceeding all expectations when they are asked to perform in a public charity gala.
Playgoers’ veteran Pat Brinicombe, who took part in a previous Playgoers’ production back in 1993, now returns as director.
And some of the performers have real-life experience of joining tap dance classes as mature students, though they say they’ve never won any competitions.
The 2019 production features Kelly Pearce, Alyson Douglas, Emma Morgan, Joanne Ritson, Marc Baillie, Sarah Delorme, Nicola Woodier, Anne Bowmer and Jane Douglas.
Times & Star preview
Doors open: 7.00pm
Running Time: 2.5 hours with intermission
Date: Tues 2nd – Sat 6th April 2019