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Stepping Out - a History of Richard Harris' Comedy
A new production of Richard Harris' Stepping Out has announced that it will open at the Vaudeville Theatre following a brief UK tour. Amanda Holden stars as Vera opposite Angela Griffin, Tracy-Ann Oberman and Tamzin Outhwaite in a production directed by Olivier Award-winning performer Maria Friedman.
Described as a funny and heart-warming comedy, Stepping Out follows the lives of seven women and one man who meet at a weekly dance class to tap their troubles away. Led by the patient ex-professional Mavis, the group begin their journey with two left feet and end up exceeding all expectations as they are asked to perform in a public charity gala.
A staple of community and amateur theatre groups all over the English speaking world, Stepping Out is a hugely popular play that is set to delight audiences once again in London's West End.
How much do you know about the award-winning comedy?
1. Stepping Out originally premièred in 1984 at the Leatherhead Theatre in a production directed by actress Julia McKenzie. After a brief UK tour the show opened in the West End at the Duke of York's Theatre on 24 September 1984, running for almost three years to 1 July 1987.
2. Stepping Out was inspired by Richard Harris' wife Hilary Crane who attended weekly dance classes in her local village hall. After beginning the group, she encouraged Harris to observe, insisting that the situation would make an effective stage comedy.
3. The original West End production won the 1984 Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy in a year when 42nd Street won the award for Best Musical, Michael Frayn won Best Play, and Ian McKellen and Maggie Smith both won Best Performance awards.
4. The comedy transferred to Broadway where it opened at the John Golden Theatre on 11 January 1987 where it ran for 73 performances, closing on 15 March. The original New York production was directed by acclaimed choreographer and director Tommy Tune and had a cast that included Carole Shelley, Cherry Jones and Meagen Fay. The production retained its north London setting and was performed with British accents.
5. The play was adapted into a musical which featured a book by Richard Harris, lyrics by Mary Stewart-David and music by Denis King. The original production was produced by Bill Kenwright and opened at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in November 1996 and transferred to the West End's Albery Theatre (now the Noel Coward) in October 1997.
6. An American adaptation of the musical was renamed One Night a Week and once again featured a book by Richard Harris, lyrics by Mary Stewart-David and music by Denis King. The action was transplanted to a YMCA community centre in suburban USA and followed Tina, the ex-professional dancer who leads weekly tap classes.
7. A film version of Stepping Out was released in 1991 directed by Lewis Gilbert. Designed as a big screen comeback for performer Liza Minnelli, the action was relocated from north London to gritty Buffalo, New York, but followed largely the same story. John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote an original song for the film based on the play's title, which became an extended performance scene at the end of the story. The cast for the film included Broadway veterans such as Bill Irwin, Ellen Greene, Jane Krakowski, Andrea Martin, Julie Walters and Shelley Winters.
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