Stepping Out has been a crowd pleaser for nigh on 30 years - and still is if the rapturous reception to Richard Harris’s tap dancing comedy at Salisbury Playhouse on opening night is anything to go by.
A scene from Stepping Out at Salisbury Playhouse Photo: Keith Pattison
It’s easy to dismiss it as dated, cliched and predictable, but the jokes still work and its feel good factor is high as Mavis Turner’s Tappers give us the old razzle dazzle in a fabulous final routine.
But it’s not just about the glitzy and slick finale, it’s about how much we care for the hapless hoofers who gather each week to master cramp rolls and buffaloes in designer Matthew Wright’s run down church hall.
And care we do in a production that is as full of heart as it is of high kicks.
Adam Penford’s pacy direction shifts seamlessly from belly laughs to pathos and back again with some wonderfully clumsy tapping in between, courtesy of choreographer Andrew Wright.
Stereotypes the characters might be, but the cast flesh them out into real people as they turn up for their tap classes with leg warmers, leotards and emotional baggage in tow.
Elizabeth Power’s Mrs Fraser is a gem - a glorious old dragon, throatily tossing out acerbic comments and tottering to the piano to deliver a squiffy tribute to Irving Berlin.
Louise Plowright’s motor-mouth Maxine, Rosie Thomson’s vulgar Sylvia and Adrian Grove’s gawky Geoffrey are all excellent, but everyone has their stand out moment not least Rachel Stanley’s Mavis, reliving past glories as a pro.
Best of all is Amy Marston’s painfully self conscious Andy, swathed in giant cardigans and dripping with repressed emotion that explodes in one heart-wrenching expletive.