Langham Court Theatre is stepping into the new year on the right foot with a new rendition of an old play hitting the stage this week.
Stepping Out is a British comedy, originally written by Richard Harris in the 1980s, and is set in a dingy church hall in North London in 1983-84. It follows the lives of eight students — seven women and one man — who attend a weekly beginner tap dance class together.
The play explores different personalities and how they deal with each other in order to get in sync. The set involves iconic images from 1983, 80s music, big hair and spandex to root it in the time period.
“The story itself is very much a slice of life. It’s written almost like a sitcom,” said director and choreographer Heather-Elayne Day. “It’s not about the tap dancing, it’s about the one-liners and conversations that are happening in the room that help us explore these characters, who they are and why they are there.”
This is the second time Langham theatre has put on this play, the first was in 1990 when Day performed the role of Mavis, the dance teacher.
Having been involved in the play for the second time, Day said it was important it be authentic. She cast 15 non-dancers, who have been taking real life tap lessons since June, making it the longest rehearsal schedule in the theatre’s history.
“I think (the cast) all enjoy that they’ve taken very similar journeys to their characters. They have been attending a once-a-week beginner’s tap dance class for the last six months to get ready for this. So they truly embody their characters,” Day laughed.
For Ursula Szkolak, a professional dancer-turned-actor, it’s a play that drives home the friendships formed on stage.
“The overall message really is camaraderie, friendship and coming together in the end for an ultimate goal,” said Szkolak, who plays Mavis.
“All these women come to the class for different reasons. At the end of the play you see them almost come out of their shell. Some of them gain more confidence, some of them have an outlet for insecurities or feel as though they have a purpose and finally seeing them come together at the end, it’s really quite beautiful.”
Stepping Out hits the stage at Langham Court Theatre (805 Langham Crt.) from Jan. 13 to 30. Tickets for six shows have already sold out. For tickets visit langhamtheatre.ca.