In their play Stepping Out, members of Blyth Players presented us with their dancing talents for a change.
Situated in a village hall the play revolves around the members of a tap-dancing class led by their patient dance teacher Mavis. The students attend the classes for a variety of reasons, which become the focus of interest as the play progresses.
Pianist Mrs Frazer ‘assists’ Mavis with her accompaniments on the piano. Her tendency to comment throughout the lessons and to add pieces of advice to all lead you to wonder why Mavis puts up with this abrasive character. You later discover the relationship between the two is that of adopted mother and daughter. We also learn much more of the complex lives of the dance students, most of whom have problems they are trying to either escape from or to solve.
Jeanette Adams, as Mavis, had a great deal of dancing to do. Being at the front of stage for most of the play in a leotard is something I couldn’t begin to contemplate personally, so my admiration for her is great. Her solo dance just showed the extent of her abilities. I can’t imagine how many hours the cast must have put in.
Zena Walker, as Mrs Frazer, was superb. With a woolly hat rammed down to her eyebrows and expressions that would make a flower wilt, she kept the comedy flowing. Maria Williams played the thoughtful nurse Lynne. Lucy Greaves was the nervous social-security worker, Dorothy. Loud and flamboyant Maxine, who was really more insecure than she looked, was Becky Nelson. Fussy, middle-class cleaning obsessive, Vera, was Judith Earle. The painfully shy Andy, with a dark secret, was Joanna Thorpe. Lonely Geoffrey was George Earle. Tracey Priest was the plain-speaking (putting it politely) Sylvia and Angela Williams was the Italian lady, Rose. These all portrayed their characters so well and with such sympathy and humour, that by the end you felt you knew them.
In an interlude we were also entertained by two dancers – Katie Lawton and Megan Reynolds who cheerfully danced away on stage. Intriguingly not mentioned in the programme were two fairies searching the stage for a lost contact lens. Perhaps this was a ruse to aid a change of scenery or costume change, but it certainly diverted our attention!
At the end the cast, dressed in sparkling silver tail coats, looked like a real set of showgirls (and boy) and danced accordingly. The inclusion of Zena’s Mrs Frazer with a tiara balanced atop her woolly hat was a masterstroke!
Blyth Players’ pantomime Ali Baba is to run from 14th-17th February, 2013.
by Wendy Fidoe