Monday, 9 November 2009

Stepping Out Review Jessie Wallace, Brian Capron, Rosemary Ashe

Stepping Out
Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne
9-14 November 2009
Performance seen 9th November

Cast (in programme listed order)
Geoffrey - Brian Capron
Sylvia - Jessie Wallace
Mrs Fraser - Rosemary Ashe
Rose - Wendy Mae Brown
Maxine - Carrie Ellis
Vera - Lucy Woolliscroft **
Lynne - Katie Kerr
Andy - Johanne Murdock
Dorothy - Karen Traynor
Mavis - Lucy Williamson
Fairy - Rosemary Ashe ***

** Understudy filled in for Susie Fenwick
*** Would have been played by Lucy Woollicroft

Stepping Out an award winning comedy by Richard HarrisStepping Out: "An award winning comedy by Richard Harris."

But there is more to this show than comedy as there is quite a lot of drama throughout, some of which is very intense.

In a nutshell Stepping Out is the story of a group of dance class attendees all of whom are attending not so much to become accomplished dancers but to escape their own very different problems in the outside world.

For this reason if you go to see Stepping Out expecting simply comedy you may come away disappointed. Go to see it with a view to seeing some very funny comedy combined with some very emotional drama and the result will be very different.

It seems like a bit of a slow starter while we discover the stories behind the faces. Everyone has a story from the solitary male member to the dance teacher herself.

It would be a bit of a spoiler if I ran through all the individual stories so I'll just go through the cast.

Former Corrie bad boy Brian Capron plays Geoffrey - the solitary male. Having read the script Brian decided to play the character and dress him in the way he thought it would work best.

For a moment you could think he may have returned to Coronation Street to take more than a few tips from Roy and Hayley Cropper. Roy for his total drippiness and Hayley for her outstandingly awful dress sense. Geoffrey wears a selection of hideous pullovers that must have taken some considerable shopping around for. It must be great to go into a clothes store and to say "It's hideous! I'll take it!"

The result though, as you can imagine, is hilarious and far removed from the sinister character of Richard Hillman we saw in Coronation Street.

Another soap star, Jessie Wallace, plays Sylvia. The actress who played Kat Slater in Eastenders plays a buxom, big headed, brash, loud mouthed, bit of a tart. Yes you've guessed it - it's Kat Slater - just in a colourful leotard. As you can imagine though she is perfect in the role.

The marvellous Rosemary Ashe is the pianist for the group. An outstanding pianist she is too - it's a formidable talent to have on top of being a renowned film, TV and theatre actress. Rosemary mentioned she has actually been asked if she is actually playing the instrument or just pretending! Thanks to some incredible make-up Rosemary is transformed wonderfully into the miserable "old battleaxe" Mrs Fraser in this play.

Stepping Out - Lucy Woolliscroft, Brian Capron and Johanne MurdockSusie Fenwick (who appeared recently in Menopause The Musical) was unable to appear so understudy Lucy Woolliscroft filled her shoes as the snooty, designer gear mad, Vera.

If you hadn't read or been told that the understudy was covering you would have been none the wiser. This is a huge role and Lucy played it flawlessly. It's a performance made all the more impresssive by the fact she is understudy for no less than 4 lead roles in Stepping Out.

For dramatic ,emotional performances it would be so hard to choose a winner between Johanne Murdock (Andy) and Lucy Williamson (Mavis the dance teacher) so I won't even try. They are equally brilliant at what are both quite emotionally charged roles considering this is still a comedy at heart.

Wendy Mae Brown, Carrie Ellis, Katie Kerr and Karen Traynor are all also marvellous at displaying the individual quirks and telling the background stories of their own particular characters.

One of the key things that works so well is that there is really no real lead role - all characters have equal importance.

This is a play that does have a "build up period", and yes the ending is somewhat predicable, but the end result is still a very entertaining evening out with a great performance from a very talented, friendly cast
4 out of 5 for Stepping Out Print This Entry

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