Stepping Out by Southport Spotlights

Review by Jen Corcoran 

Stepping Out – The Musical

Southport Spotlights

Little Theatre, Southport – 22-25 Feb 2023

Southport Spotlights turned 70 this year.  They have been delighting Southport audiences with musicals and operettas for seven decades, and boast a wonderful repertoire that is always performed to a high standard.

Director Tracey Batchelor and choreographer Pippa Morris previously worked together in the play version of this slice of life and were thrilled to bring this warm, funny and poignant piece to life again.  Adam Dutch rounds out the production team as the Musical Director. 

In Stepping Out we meet the dancers at Mavis Turner’s tap class.  Anna Dunnett is ideally cast as Mavis – a trained dancer and dance teacher, she brings the strength and star quality as well as the vulnerability to the character who is struggling to make ends meet, so welcomes anyone who turns up to her class “One Night a Week”.

She is accompanied by her class pianist, Mrs Fraser.  Gaynor Hale is really strong in the role of the curmudgeonly yet maternal constant in Mavis’s life. 

The class is made up of a wide range of attendees who brought their characters to life and maintained them throughout the show.  This is no mean feat in a large cast where you are required to speak and dance in character as well as reacting at some times, and being authentic in the background at other times.

Student nurse Lynne is a capable dancer who helps Mavis lead classes, portrayed by Corinna Davies, we get to know her hopes and dreams for the future.

Toni Spofforth portrays the politically conscious, yet socially awkward Andy.  Andy strikes up a friendship with the only man in the class, widower Geoffrey, played by Dom Tolley.  Their scenes and duet are very tender and moving and you are rooting for them to have a happy ending.

Another nervous dancer is Dorothy, played by Katie Palfrey – she comes to class to have respite from her caring responsibilities and is taken under the wing of the trio of married women, whose problems she would love to have. 

Sylvia, played by Laura-Jane Palmer-Farrar, is the quick witted Scouser who enjoys flirting in the wine bar they visit after class but always goes home to her husband.  Her best friend Rose is self-conscious after a hair disaster.  This larger than life Christian played by Gill Harris is still very much in love with her husband, so this gives her peace.  Finally, Lauren Tolley is Maxine; she can often be found flogging dance gear to her class mates and is perennially plagued by the antics of her stepson “Wonder Boy” – she is brash on the outside, but there is always more to a person.

Another dancer who is putting on a front is newcomer Vera, played by the accomplished Debbie Bloom.  She is very keen to maintain standards and add a touch of glamour, but seems to be lonely as her husband is often away.  The light and shade are brought out brilliantly – she is not one of the warmer characters but you will be rooting for her by curtain down (or should that be curtain up!).

Rounding out the cast as additional class members and various cameo characters we have lovely turns (and taps) from Elaine Cox, Denise Marsters, Chloe Morris and Ceri Watkins.

Mavis agrees to showcase the class at a local festival.  At first it seems a good idea, but as life gets in the way, not to mention hats and sticks coming into play – will the show go on?  You will have to watch to see!

The characters are consistent, the choreography is cracking and the harmonies heavenly – the show is underpinned by an awesome orchestra and talented technicians.  Please go and support your local societies and theatre.  I was tapping away in my seat and I am still humming the tunes now.

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