With the opening night performance now nail-bitingly close (it’s just three sleeps away), the cast and crew are in full swing with rehearsals for St George’s Players‘ annual autumn show. And when I say full swing, I really mean it, as we’re preparing for a three night run of Stepping Out, a comedy by Richard Harris about a group who attend a tap dance class.
The choice of play came after one of the players monthly read-through’s, and was fitting to produce because of an overwhelming response from female members. But this has been a production has been particularly unique, as the director, Felicity Nelson, notes:
“We love producing comedies at St George’s Players, but Stepping Out has been something extra special. Dance is a completely new element for us and it has certainly proved to be a fun challenge which the cast have taken to with great effort and enthusiasm!”.
For me personally, it has been a truly enjoyable production to be involved in. This is not only because the cast and crew have been so stellar, but because of the flexibility it has given each of us the opportunity to pursue interests other than acting. Whether that be photography, marketing, or dance – such as Laura (playing Lynne in Stepping Out), who choreographed the tap routine along with a friend and taught the cast – we’ve all been able to try our hand at something beyond the play.
Although it is a comedy, there’s been a lot to take seriously in the run up to show week. Lucinda, who plays Mavis the teacher of the class, has had the most work in getting to grips with tap to look like a professional. She took beginners tap classes at Morley College, an established Adult Education Centre in Westminster, alongside having a couple of lessons with a lady called April Christie who runs the Perfect Circle Dance Studio in Crystal Palace. This has all resulted in a brilliant solo number which I for one am super excited to see Lucinda debut on opening night.
Rehearsals can at times feel like a thankless task, but now that show week is well and truly upon us, it’s easy to see the hard work paying off.
This is perfectly exemplified by the set build, which involves the help of many skilled and dedicated volunteers, who do everything from wall papering and painting the set, to rigging the lighting and sound. It’s great to see a small, tight knit group of people coming together to make something and put it on for the wider community. With everything that goes into each production, it is a massive feat, and we have all of us so, so far. From not knowing our lines, to not knowing any tap, we no hop-step, shuffle-step with ease, and all whilst remembering cue lines, and trying to be funny at the same time!
One thing that is so great about Stepping Out is how much it has chimed with the experience of putting on a performance. Although on the surface, it seems to be a witty examination human nature, the message that spoke to me was much more simple. In writing the lives of these characters, and how they each in their own way use the tap class to escape whatever trials they are experiencing in their day to day lives, Richard Harris created a world that is all about learning to support one another. In performing it you really do feel supported by your fellow cast and crew. So here is to another year and another show!
Stepping Out | 29-31 October
- Suitable for most (just a couple of swears).
- Tickets: £8.50 including programme.
- Venue: St George’s Church, Vancouver Road, London SE23 2AG.
- Doors open at 7.30pm.
- Show starts at 8pm.
- Running time: Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes including a 20 minute interval.