Front Row Center
By Michael Warren
By Richard Harris
Directed by Ann Swiston
Stepping Out was produced in 1984 in the West End, London, where it received the Evening Standard Comedy of the Year Award. Actually I find that strange, because the play is entertaining but it’s not really a comedy. The play concerns eight individuals from disparate backgrounds and with differing motivations who attend the same weekly tap dancing class in a dingy church hall. Despite the students at first treating the classes as social occasions, and showing little co-ordination, they later develop an impressive level of skill.
I enjoyed the evening and the cast did a very good job learning to tap dance as well as acting their parts. For almost everyone, this was their first acting role and they all performed well. Val Jones was excellent and in character as “Mavis” the instructor, as she does teach tap dance classes in Ajijic. And Judy Hendrick, who plays piano for many LLT productions, was good in her role as the grouchy class pianist “Mrs Fraser.” Congratulations to the students – you came across as real people learning to tap dance and at the same time escaping from a difficult or humdrum existence. Thank you – Allyson de Jong, Maritza Freyslinger, D’Le Beatty Tobias, Joanne Stuart, Flemming Halby, Alexis Hoff, Tina Leonard, and Curly Lieberman. I should also mention Dave McIntosh who made the most of a cameo role as the caretaker.
I did wish that we could have known the characters better. Each had a story to tell, but the author avoided telling it and as a result there was little depth or tension to the play. At one point “Geoffrey,” who is painfully shy and is the only male in the class, is pressed to talk about himself and he shouts “You don’t know anything about me!” Unfortunately, we don’t and we never do. I guess it would have been a different sort of play, but it certainly could have been more interesting.
At the end of the play, the class gives a performance at a charity event and we get to see the final glitzy show. It’s rewarding and emotional and, after all the hard work, it makes a great ending. Alexis Hoff was responsible for the Choreography for the entire play. The costumes were suitably glamorous for the show, and Wardrobe did a good job throughout. Thanks to Sherolyn Gregory and Paulette Coburn – you came up with some sharp outfits. This play was something different from the usual fare at LLT, and Ann Swiston and her team did a professional job. Win McIntosh was Stage Manager and Candace Luciano was Assistant Director.
Next up is Rumors – an elegant farce by Neil Simon, directed by Paul Kloegman. It opens on December 4 and runs through December 13.