MEMBERS of Rubery Drama Group who we are used to seeing playing to their acting strengths in productions danced their way into our hearts with their latest staging Stepping Out.
The piece by Richard Harris centres on a group of nine women and one man who meet weekly for tap-dancing lessons from former professional chorus girl Mavis who tries her best to take the amateurs with two left feet to being performance-ready so they can take to the stage at a public charity gala.
Julie Brotherhood, who played Mavis, had not tap-danced since her childhood and the other ten had never tried it.
The challenge had been set and the cast rose to it.
Brotherhood got a well-deserved round of applause for her solo effort in the first act and the others also produced fine performances on the night.
Like Les Dawson’s famous piano rendition of The Entertainer, they say you have to be able to dance before you can act like characters who cannot dance which gave the cast another challenge.
By the end of the show the group proved they had not only learnt their lines well (a skill they are used to), they had also learnt to tap dance and then to dance like they could not dance (if that makes any sense).
When the sparkle-filled finale was delivered there was – quite rightfully – loud applause and cheering. We felt a sense of accomplishment, not just for the fictional characters but also for the actors (and now dancers) for what they had achieved.
But Stepping Out is not just about the dancing, there are plenty of colourful characters – some who get on, others who clash and there is social comment too.
We have all been to some club or group which meets at the local community hall and we could all relate to the get-togethers where you learn a little bit more each week about the members.
This is where the cleverness of the writing comes in – in between the dances we find out about the characters’ home lives and day-to-day situations.
Vicky Routh as nurse Lynne played a touching scene where she described seeing an old lady pass away for the first time and Wendy Pardoe was amazing as Andy, a timid but socially conscious character, who showcased the plenty of frailties in her life.
Jayne Jones as wheeling and dealing Maxine who can always get her hands on items (like Private Walker in Dad’s Army), Ian Kimberley Ryan as the only man Geoff (often doted on by all the women) and Julie Edwards as frank, straight-talking and tactless Vera all stirred feelings as their respective characters.
But the performance of the night was by Helen Bourke as flamboyant Brummie Sylvia. There were plenty of double entendres and wonderful one-liners in this script and she got the lion’s share of laughs for the ones she delivered.
A big shout-out has to go to Jayne Jones and Nicky Smith for directing this piece and Matt Lucas of Richardz Dance Studio for – like the plot – taking a cast of left-footed actors and teaching them to dance.
This show is well worth a watch but there are not many tickets left – so make sure you go and see one of the final performances at the Beacon Church Centre at 7.30pm tomorrow and Saturday, October 19.
Tickets – at £7 (£6 concessions) – are available by calling 0121 453 8733 or 0121 445 2323.