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by Richard Harris
WIMBORNE Drama have never been afraid of a challenge, but to take on a production which required the entire cast to learn a totally new skill is commendable to say the least.
And they pulled it off, so much so that it was hard to believe that prior to starting rehearsals for Stepping Out, only Kristin Williams, who had the starring role as instructor Mavis - the part taken by Liza Minnelli in the film - had been a tap dancer.
The story is quite simple. Mavis, a hoofer who having failed to make a career on the stage - portrayed as a teenager by the talented Rebecca Feltham - resorts to teaching a disparate group of wannabe dancers in a run-down village hall.
Joining the class of six women, and one man, was Vera - in the Julie Walters part - played with a lot of humour by Jan Bursby. Their efforts to coordinate their limbs was hugely amusing, and it was difficult to believe that by the end of the evening they could become a proficient, co-ordinated team. But they did, to huge applause from the very enthusiastic first night audience.
Colin Pile has been in a number of productions in both Wimborne and Ferndown, but he has never been better than as the shy Geoffrey, the only man in the class. More dancing roles beckon Colin!
Jean Dishington, Jolene Palmer, Tracey Nicholls, Boo Feltham, Clare Downs and Jen Stacey were the other dancers who developed their characters - and their dancing skills - as did Jackson Ellen, the eccentric pianist.
Well done, Wimborne Drama, it was a triumph.
Marilyn Ayres, The Community Magazine
ON A suitably dowdy 'run-down church hall' set, complete with notice boards where the notices changed with each scene - a small but significant touch - this play, set around a weekly tap dance class, was beautifully played out.
Richard Harris' comedy concentrates as much on its participants' lives as on their ability to learn to dance, and in this production, directed by Stuart Glossop, the characters really came to life.
Tracey Nicholls scored highly with her moving portrayal of unhappy Andy, as did Clare Downs as common-as-muck Sylvia and Jan Bursby as hygiene-obsessed Vera.
Jen Stacey made the most of her role as Rose, although now political correctness demands that it can rarely be played as originally intended, the character loses much of its impetus.
Jolene Palmer was bright and bubbly as Maxine, as were Boo Feltham (Lynne) and Jean Dishington (Dorothy) while Colin Pile was suitably reticent as token male, Geoffrey.
Jackson Ellen was delightfully Bohemian as accompanist Mrs Fraser, and Kristin Williams caught the character of Mavis well, although I should have liked to see a much bigger portrayal.
Pity about the dodgy sound cues, which sometimes caused the piano to play by itself and the music player to continue after it had been 'stopped'.
Linda Kirkman, Daily Echo
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