By Rizal Raoul Reyes
Watching Repertory Philippines’ April presentation “Stepping Out” gives you a sense of nostalgia because of the tap dancing sequences.
Written by Richard Harris, the good-natured musical comedy gives the audience particularly the millennials the chance to appreciate the beauty of tap dancing popularized by screen idols Bayani Casimiro and comedy king Dolphy in the local silver screen and Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly from Hollywood.
But it does not end with the tap dancing stuff as Stepping Out shows more interesting points in the life of a “beginners” tap dance in a dingy hall, featuring eight misfit students who have their own reason for joining.
At first, the students were treating the class as a “social occasion”, and showing little coordination, they somehow develop a level of skill and cohesiveness.
The show becomes more interesting and the steps and routines are just the background for the real focus of the play is the relationships and interactions of these 10 very different people.
Initially awkward at the beginning, the dancers also had to face their individual challenges to overcome the inhibitions and awkwardness that have them kept out of sync.
By their final performance, they were not the rough diamonds they used to be during the early stage. At this time, the class members are now more confident and have acquired developed some degree of skill.
Furthermore, the students realized through their dance classes what they that they can achieve what they want through hard work and focus.
Just watching the final number of the cast was a blast as the younger and veteran artists gamely danced and sung with gusto.
Angela Padilla (Mavis) leads the cast of equally hardworking and talented cast as the eternally patient instructor, a “has-been” Broadway performer who moves to another city and starts teaching tap dance lessons, and accompanied by the acerbic pianist “Mrs. Fraser.”
Padilla admits she was initially nervous when offered the role of Mavis. But she had some reservations. “Sure, I can carry a tune, but I’m really not the strongest singer. Furthermore, my last musical was over a year ago, and I haven’t been singing since,” says Padilla.
The bigger challenge, according to Padilla was playing the lead role.
“The second big shocker –I’m stepping in to play the teacher! Now hearing that I had to learn to tap was exciting. But then pretending to know what I’m doing… I immediately thought, “What have I gotten myself into?! I’ve really been thrown into the deep, deep, end here,” says Padilla.
Cara Barredo (Lynne) has proven she can dance and act at the same time. She “stepped out” when she was only seven years old to play a little boy, Tiny Tim, in Rep’s “Scrooge.”
Finally, Stepping Out enabled the cast members to “step out”: of their comfort zones which they thought would not be possible. They regarded it is their biggest challenge. Based on their performance, we can say they gave it all and came out it style and grace.
Director Jaime del Mundo and musical director E.J. Yatco deserve a pat on the back for exemplary guidance.
May 2016 Health and Lifestyle