Stepping Out needs a little tightening up.
Thursday, December 9, 1999
Dance classes like this don''t often exist in "real" life, but make handy vehicles for plays and TV movies. Hence, the temptation to rely on formula. This script falls into that category. We have the abused woman, the aging beauty, the brash working-class woman, the sweet but inhibited widower, and so on. And while there are some affecting performances and nice production values--the set, (Stephi Waldrip) lighting (Steve Judge), and sound (John Engelhorn and Frank Sinatra) were all wonderful--ultimately, this production doesn''t hang together.
Most problematic were the scenes that included the entire ensemble. The structure of the play is such that at any given moment there are several separate simultaneous conversations taking place. To make this work, you need a quick uptake between cues, and intense energy by the actors to "pull focus" to their part of the stage when they''re speaking. On opening night, the cues were slow and the threads of the stories confusing.
Nevertheless, there were several fine performances, and one superb. Pat Horsley as Vera managed to be breezy and compulsive (and funny) at the same time. Lynette Graves as the shrinking violet, Andy, had such an expressive face I found myself watching her when other things were going on just to see its shadows. Stephi Waldrip was properly supercilious as the pompous Mrs. Frasier. Melissa Chin as Lynne reached deep into an emotional well to produce a touching scene of angst and uncertainty. Sylvia (Anna Schumacher) and Rose (Rizu Kennamore) brought energy and an uninhibited sense of play to the stage.
But the night belonged to Sam Trevino, who played Geoffrey. He was subtle, touchingly awkward, soulful, sad and funny, and always believable. He took a flat character written largely as a stereotype and gave us a three-dimensional person about whom we could care. Fine job.
Stepping Out plays at the Golden Bough Theater in Carmel through Dec. 19.