Review: Stepping Out by Richard Harris at Chichester Festival Theatre

JPET Chichester Festival theatre Winter season 2016 SUS-160920-121537003

JPET Chichester Festival theatre Winter season 2016 SUS-160920-121537003

If Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden wondered what it was like to be a contestant on the mega-glitzy TV show, her latest venture gives a fleeting insight.

Stepping Out has more than a dash of BGT about it. An eclectic mix of 1980s suburban residents learning tap dancing in a dilapidated church hall are propelled into the spotlight at a local charity show.

The super glamorous Holden plays one of those hopefuls in Harris’s classic script and she doesn’t hesitate to puncture her chic image with some rapier one-liners and a deportment which are as funny as they are self-deprecating.

It’s Calendar Girls meets Chorus Line. Or almost.

This production casually exposes fragments of human hopes and disappointment through the weekly classes and deliciously exploits the ridiculousness of the everyday - but the inevitable loose ends apart, it lacks the big, emotive theme of Calendar Girls.

Its final showstopper number is never going to rival the big musical finales for which Chichester is famed.

The cast is top-notch and Holden a real treat of a star turn. It’s packed with humour. No-one would dream of pressing the BGT buzzer on Stepping Out but if it is going to step up it needs to tap into more pathos and pace.