HARLOW THEATRE COMPANY.
Review from NODA:
This was my first visit to Harlow Theatre Company as their NODA Rep, although not the first time I had seen one of their productions. On past occasions I had been impressed by the high standard to which they perform so I was really looking forward to seeing their latest show, and wow! what a show it was.
Stepping Out is a feel good play about the lives and loves of an ill assorted group of women and one man who meet once a week for tap dancing lessons in a rather drab hall, somewhere in North London. For most of them it is a means of escape from their everyday lives, and the interaction between them forms the main focus of the play. Gradually they develop their tap dancing skills and are invited to perform at a charity concert, but not without some hilarious moments along the way.
The set was that of the hall in which the weekly lessons take place. It was pretty bare but functional, as is the case with most community halls. Good use was made of the gangway through the auditorium to stage right as the entrance to the hall, with doors at the back of the stage leading to all the usual facilities and a piano stage left. The action was played to mirror which worked well.
Characterisations throughout were excellent. There was Ella Forman as student nurse Lynne, and Jocelyn Johnson as the rather anxious Dorothy, arriving each week on her bicycle. Then there was Jessica Ricketts as quiet Andy, looking to escape an unhappy home life and Kathryn Taylor as Maxine, regaling us with hilarious tales of her life, but was everything really as it seemed? Vanessa Wood was terrific as snooty Vera. New to the group and trying ever so hard to fit in, she endears herself to no-one with her determination to clean the place up to the extent that she brings in a toilet brush.
Daniel Ricketts as widower Geoffrey did a good job at looking awkward and shy throughout, as called for in the script and Melissa Guest as gum chewing Sylvia gave us a masterclass in how to dance really badly. Not an easy thing to do when you’ve already learnt the routine, and it had the audience in fits of laughter. Helga Kilroy as Rose, with her assortment of wigs, completed the lineup of dancers.
A beautiful poignant portrayal of dance teacher Mavis by Michelle Jimenez-Alder who is obviously an accomplished dancer, and good character acting by Sarah Wiggins as Mrs. Fraser, pianist on her own terms, and a mother figure to Mavis.
Attired in sparkly red and black outfits the group gives the charity concert their best shot. Fast forward twelve months and they are invited back. Now confident and proficient and dressed in gold and black, with a glitter ball overhead they give the performance of their lives.
This was a very slick production, well costumed and with good lighting and sound. It certainly was one to lift the spirits.
Congratulations to the Director, Choreographer and everyone else involved.
Thank you for inviting me.
Decia Ranger, NODA Reporter
Lynne - Ella Forman
Dorothy - Jocelyn Johnson
Mavis - Michelle Jimenez-Alder
Mrs Fraser - Sarah Wiggins
Maxine - Kathryn Taylor
Andy - Jessica Ricketts
Geoffrey - Daniel Ricketts
Vera - Vanessa Wood
Sylvia - Melissa Guest
Rose - Helga Kilroy
Director – Jeanne Stacey
Assisted by - Dan James
Choreographer - Debbie Hannam
Production Manager - Paul Johnson
Costume Co-ordinator - Jocelyn Johnson
Assisted by - Denise Rouse and the cast
Dance Captain - Melissa Guest
Stage Manager/DSM - Sam Stevens
Set realisation by - Paul Johnson, Brett Stevens, Stephen Dove, Tom Richards and Barry Bowen
Props Co-ordinator - Barry Bowen
Lighting and Sound Design - Tom Richards
ASMs - Carrie-Lee Stevens, Katie Fisher, Chris Dunkin and
LX Board Operator - Spike Klyn
Sound Operator - Tom Richards
Publicity Design - Paul Johnson
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank our sponsors for their support throughout 2019.