Review of Stepping Out at the Pump House

Last Thursday I went to Watford’s Pump House Theatre to watch a Belmont Theatre production of Stepping Out, written by Richard Harris and first performed in the West End in 1984. It was also made into a movie in 1991 starring Liza Minnelli and Julie Walters; I need to get this!

The story is basically about a group of people who attend a weekly tap class in their local church hall, each with their own foibles and quirks, and through the course of the play, snippets of their lives and backgrounds come to the fore. This, interspersed with a bit of tapping here and there, culminating in a final showstopper!

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I really enjoyed this performance at this little, intimate theatre (so intimate in fact, we saw people we knew, including one person in the play!). The acting was good, the setting was believably suburban, the jokes worked (if not a little forced in places), dramatic moments cut through the humour and the dance wear certainly caught your eye.

Now, as a tap student myself, I was really looking forward to seeing the tap dancing, but as this was presented by an amateur dramatics group, it wasn’t the best I’ve seen. Watching the final showstopper, I think there were maybe 2 or 3 ladies who have trained in tap dance, while the rest maybe hadn’t done any prior to this show (if they had, I apologise!). But, that made it all the more believable, rather than everyone suddenly becoming a perfected Ginger Rogers at the end. I like the fact that people sometimes trip over a line or speak at the same time as another character by accident, because that is the BEAUTY of LIVE performance. No editing. I’ve seen West End shows where the singer’s voice has cracked, or they got out of breath, or the stage equipment got stuck, and that shows that they’re human.

I would definitely recommend seeing a production of this show if you get the chance (or watch the film).

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