Comedy by Richard Harris. Set in a in a low-rent dance studio where we meet seven women and one man attempting to tap their troubles away at a weekly dancing class. Over the course of several months we meet the group, and all of them have a story to tell. Mavis, a former professional chorus girl, tries her hardest to teach them some basic tap moves - but then they are asked to take part in a charity gala...
Richard Harris' West End credits include the thriller Dead Guilty
Original West End Production 1984
Previewed 18 September 1984, Opened 25 September 1984, Closed 11 July 1987 at the Duke of York's Theatre
Returned 11 July 1990, Closed 22 September 1990 at the Strand Theatre (now Novello Theatre)
The original cast featured Barbara Ferris as 'Mavis', Sheri Shepstone as 'Mrs Fraser', Charlotte Barker as 'Lynne', Josephine Gordon as 'Dorothy', Barbara Young as 'Maxine', Gabrielle Lloyd as 'Andy', Ben Aris as 'Geoffrey', Diane Langton as 'Sylvia', Peggy Phango as 'Rose' and Marcia Warren as 'Vera'. Directed by Julia McKenzie with choreography by Jenifer Mary Morgan with finale choreography by Tudor Davies, designs by Stuart Stanley and lighting by Jon Swain. The 1990 return season was re-directed by Martin Connor, based on the original by Julia McKenzie.
Stepping Out - The Musical 1997
Previewed 8 October 1997, Opened 28 October 1997, Closed 28 February 1998 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)
A new musical comedy version of Richard Harris' hit comedy Stepping Out featuring songs by Denis King and Mary Steward-David. This production is coming into the West End after a regional tour.
The cast features Liz Robertson as 'Mavis' and Sharon D Clarke as 'Rose' with Helen Bennett as 'Sylivia', Helen Cotterill as 'Dorothy', Felicity Goodson as 'Andy', Carolyn Pickles as 'Vera', Rachel Spry as 'Lynne', Colin Wakefield as 'Geoffrey', Barbara Stewart as 'Maxine' and Gwendolyn Watts as 'Mrs Fraser'. Musical comedy by Richard Harris with music by Denis King and lyrics by Mary Steward-David, based on the original play by Richard Harris. Directed by Julia McKenzie with choreography by Tudor Davis and designs by Sean Cavanagh. Liz Robertson's London stage credits include the musical The Music Man at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre in 1995 and the thriller Killing Jessica at the Savoy Theatre in 1986.
"Ladies and gentleman of the amateur chorus line fall over their own feet at the outset, but eventually they're dancing on air. Join them, and your own spirits are likely to be lightened by this thoroughly engaging version of the hit play...[The story] could be - but is not - patronising. It certainly is fairly shallow, but Harris's script and the songs of King and Stewart-David make it a warmly human and frequently funny entertainment. A bonus lies in the rarity value of something sympathising with and celebrating woman. And the excellent cast moves it up a gear. Thanks to Julia McKenzie and Tudor Davies's staging you'll need to see the show atleast twice to appreciate everything on offer, for so much goes on in the way of by-play and reactions among the team. Liz Robertson, lithe, deft and pixie-faced, shines as the diplomatic sergeant-major in charge of an appeallingly awkward squad...Harder driving, more sophisticated musicals may become available. I doubt whether many will prove richer in character detail or be more feel-good effective. Sign up fo this class, you won't regret it." The Daily Mail
"Forget the operatic opulence of Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh: this is the authentic British musical. Richard Harris's uncomplicated 1984 comedy about mismatched women learning to work together at a tap-dancing class has had a few Denis King ditties sitched into its homely fabric. The result is a quintessentially English, low-key, low-brow entertainment, as easy on the brain as on the ear." The London Evening Standard
"Richard Harris' story of a group of suburban no-hopers who overcome two left feet, boyfriend trouble, bereavement, elderly parents, battered-wife syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder to transform themselves into a chorus of top-class tap-dancers is a goose that has laid a successful straight play and a film starring Liza Minnelli. That's what I call golden. Trying to turn it into a musical kills the goose stone dead. I say 'trying', because the creative team - which includes Harris - has come up with something that is neither fish nor fowl. It is a play that stops for songs. Every number is like an interval - often an embarrassingly over-extended one... There's the odd witty line which leads me to believe that the original stage play must have been a tighter, more sharply funny affair... and you can't fault a cast who give the play the full work out when they could get by on a gentle stroll. But it's no good. Harris has well and truly cooked his goose this time round." The Guardian
Stepping Out - The Musical in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 8 October, opened on 28 October 1997 and closed on 28 February 1998
1st London West End Revival 2017
Previewed 1 March 2017, Opened 14 March 2017, Closed 17 June 2017 at the Vaudeville Theatre
The cast features Amanda Holden as 'Vera' with Natalie Casey as 'Sylvia', Tracy-Ann Oberman as 'Maxine', Tamzin Outhwaite as 'Mavis', Nicola Stephenson as 'Dorothy', Judith Barker as 'Mrs Fraser', Dominic Rowan as 'Geoffrey', Sandra Marvin as 'Rose', Lesley Vickerage and Jessica Alice McClusley. Unfortunately, prior to opening in London, Tamzin Outhwaite suffered a stress fracture of her foot and therefore temporarily pulled out of the show. While she was out, her role of 'Mavis' was initially played by the understudy Katie Verner and then Anna-Jane Casey took over temporarily. Directed by Maria Friedman with choreography by Tim Jackson, designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Gregory Clarke.
When this revival opened at the Vaudeville Theatre in March 2017, Neil Norman in the Daily Express exclaimed: "Bring on the dancing girls! While it may be mired stickily in the 1980s, Richard Harris’ play Stepping Out is on the road to classic status. And Maria Friedman’s glorious production will undoubtedly help it on its way. The presence of golden girl Amanda Holden is another plus but the entire cast is well chosen... The plot is schematic and largely predictable but elevated by the wealth of subtle character details that Harris and the actors bring. Body language and meaningful glances are just as important as words." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail described it as being "a charming, slow-burn comedy about a suburban amateur tap-dancing class... this show may move a little slowly, but it is free of pretension, has several wry moments and I enjoyed it. It makes for a gentle evening out and will suit families and couples who like their comedy gentle and English." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph highlighted that "Richard Harris's 1984 comedy about a gaggle of women (plus one token bloke) who convene in a North London church hall to learn the rudiments of tap dancing has been kept in period by director Maria Friedman... much of the charm of this slight, schematic fairytale about the joy of amateur hoofing resides in its capturing of a historical moment." Lyn Gardner in the Guardian wrote that "there’s very little substance either in characterisations or the episodic plot... the play is full of female characters and yet completely devoid of feminism." Ann Treneman in the Times thought that "it all feels dated, like an old sit-com that, somehow, ended up on stage," adding that "this production feels too slow from the start. Each of the characters gets their star turn and there are some funny lines but it doesn't gel... the last scene, where the feet really are tapping, raises the roof. But all of those bursts of energy, sadly, don't make for fireworks here." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard commented that "Maria Friedman's affectionate production struggles sufficiently to animate this rather flat — and dated — material and it's a long slog towards the inevitable jazz hands finale. The cast try hard to create whole characters out of flimsy sketches, but it's an uphill struggle."
Amanda Holden's West End stage credits include the role of 'The Fairy Godmother' in the pantomine Cinderella at the London Palladium in 2016 and the title role in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2003. Tracy-Ann Oberman's West End credits include the role of 'Isabella Blow' in McQueen at the Haymarket Theatre Royal in 2015 and taking over the role of 'Gretchen' in the comedy Boeing! Boeing! at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2007. Tamzin Outhwaite's London stage credits include the role of 'Teresa Phillips' in Alan Strachan's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy How The Other Half Loves at the Haymarket Theatre, then Duke of York's Theatre in 2016; originating the role of 'Di' in Anna Mackmin's staging of Amelia Bullmore's Di and Viv and Rose at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2015; the title role in Matthew White's revival of the musical Sweet Charity at the Haymarket Theatre Royal in 2010; and originating the role of 'Gloria' in Matthew Warchus' revival of Marc Camoletti's comedy Boeing! Boeing! at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2007. Maria Friedman's West End directing credits include revival of Cole Porter's musical High Society at the Old Vic Theatre in 2015 and Stephen Sondheim's musical Merrily We Roll Along at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2013.
"At short notice the classy Anna-Jane Casey has stepped in as former chorus girl Mavis who, in Maria Friedman's plodding revival of Richard Harris's 1984 West End hit, teaches tap every Thursday evening to the motliest group of seven women and one man ever to set foot into a dance shoe. They are played here by a fairly starry cast including Amanda Holden as posh and unpopular Vera... The plot makes much of the friendships and frictions that form across class divides as Mavis drills her ungainly pupils into a chorus line fit for a charity fundraiser. But the comedy has all the edge of a wet rag. Holden is chained to a caricature who is obsessed with cleaning. A line about Geoffrey sticking out like a 'sore thumb' is cliched, but when it's turned into a dubious gag about the play's only black character Rose, you wonder how anybody thought dusting off this bore was a good idea. Tamzin Outhwaite, whose foot is expected to heal quickly, is due to return soon. But if I were her, I'd walk." The London Metro
"The seven women and one man who attend a tap-dancing evening class in Richard Harris's Stepping Out are also stock figures... The affection of Harris's writing, the sharpness of his observation and the originality of the situation raise them to a different level. The transformation of eight talentless misfits into a tap-dancing troupe to rival that in the musical A Chorus Line may be as much of a fantasy as anything in the Irving Berlin songs commended by the dour rehearsal pianist (a show-stealing Judith Barker), but it is heartwarming to watch. As well as the alliances, bickering and tantrums, Harris offers tantalising glimpses of the shadows over participants' lives: loneliness, unemployment, unwanted pregnancy, wife-beating and child abuse. Director Maria Friedman delicately balances these darker moments with the comedy and dance routines and draws splendid performances from the entire cast... Best of all is the long-suffering and splendidly limber Anna-Jane Casey as their teacher." The Sunday Express
"West End theatres seem to have realised that middle-aged women make up most of their audiences and enjoy seeing themselves on stage. If only Maria Friedman’s revival of Richard Harris’s 1984 comedy was as entertaining as The Girls. A group of women and one man come together every Thursday to bond and bitch, in between learning tap in a dingy community hall... Their eventual triumph is inevitable, with Amanda Holden hamming it up as the tactless Vera. The jokes are scarce for a comedy and the characters too thin for anything more serious, despite the hints of child abuse, domestic violence and benefit fraud." The Sunday Times
The original production of Richard Harris' comedy was seen in London's West End for a hugely successful run of just under three years at the Duke of York's Theatre from 1984 to 1987, with an eleven week return season in 1990. A film version was released in 1991, starring Liza Minnelli, Julie Walters and Shelly Winters, that was directed by Lewis Gilbert and included a new title song written by John Kander and Fred Ebb. In 1997 a new musical version (with songs by Denis King and Mary Steward-David) was staged at the Noel Coward Theatre for a limited four month run.
Stepping Out in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 1 March 2017, opened on 14 March 2017 and closed on 17 June 2017