Tap your troubles away with the revival of Richard Harris’ award-winning comedy Stepping Out at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
This is not so much a reboot as a straight-up restaging, but in the round, of the story about nine women and one man who meet once a week at a tap dance class.
The action has moved from north London to somewhere between here and Hull but the setting is still firmly in the 1980s – with leg warmers, bomber jackets, headbands and Pineapple leotards aplenty.
The cast are: Natasha Calland as the kind-hearted trainee nurse Lynn; Alix Dunmore as the nervy abused Andy; Claire Eden as sassy working class Sylvia;
Joanne Heywood as professional dancer turned teacher Mavis; David McKechnie, insurance expert and token male Geoffrey; Fenella Norman as crusty, formidable pianist and mother-figure to Mavis Mrs Fraser.
Gemma Page as snobbish busybody Vera; Sarah Pearman as spinster and social security employee Dorothy; Angela Phinnimore as church-going mother Rose and Suzanne Procter as the manic shop-owner and step-mum Maxine.
Stepping Out is a feel-good comedy about a group of diverse women and one man who put on a half-decent end of term tap dancing display.
It is also more than that – scratch beneath the surface and it is an observation on class, marriage, loneliness, physical and mental abuse, motherhood, care, duty, struggle, disappointment, ambition, loss and love.
Each of these characters have their own reasons for wanting to be at the weekly class – release, escape, confidence boost, to belong and for company.
They dance as they live – Andy is nervous and drops her hat; Dorothy is earnest; Maxine is the most accomplished; Lynn wants to please, Geoffrey bumbling along; Vera the best dressed and Rose dances shyly. It is up to Mavis – who also has issues of her own – to keep them in something like a chorus line.
Their moment to shine comes when they are asked to put on a show – the organisation of which and rehearsals for fill the second half of the play.
As the date of the event nears so tensions rise until they boil over into arguments and tantrums – from the most unlikeliest of quarters – and the secrets of the characters are subtly revealed.
For some there is a conclusion and resolution, for others neither of these things look likely – just like real life.
This is an ensemble performance – each cast member wringing out every inch of individuality from their character – directed with love and exuberance by Paul Robinson.
The curtain comes down on a spectacular tap dancing display – complete with hats and sticks – to the number Stepping Out – which has the audience on its feet begging for more.
Stepping Out is a celebration of one of the most joyous sounds – tap-dancing feet to music by greats from the American Songbook – in theatre.
It is also a tribute to the resilience of human spirit and friendship.
Stepping Out is the ideal summer season opener – it lifts the spirits, makes you cry and then laugh, it has warmth, pathos , humour and a feel-good quality of the highest factor imaginable.
You will want to join a tap-dancing class the second it ends – failing that book another ticket for the show.
It is in repertory until Saturday August 3.
Tickets, priced from £10, are available from the box office on 01723 370541 and online at www.sjt.uk.com