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The play follows the story of a dance class run by hard-working instructor Mavis (Rachel Hafel, 12; Kathleen Niemann, 12), whose career on Broadway came to an early end. In this dance class, the students are accepted not based on talent but their love of dance. When Mavis offers to have the class perform for a charity event, the bonds between the characters are tested. As the play develops, the audience learns about the different problems in each character’s life, be they a mischievous child or an abusive husband.
Stepping Out opens to characters full of wit and life. The first act is filled with quality banter and dialogue. Photo by Eileen Guan (12)
The best thing about “Stepping Out” is that the plot doesn’t just focus on the life of one character but the lives of multiple characters, so audience members grow to feel as if they know each character on a personal level and have a lot of sympathy for each one. Learning about each individual makes the dance group’s struggle to learn the routine all the more important to the audience.
One of the most basic yet important features in a play is the set, which was created entirely by YPAS students in the Design and Production (D&P) magnet. “Stepping Out” uses tables, walls, and other props to create the dance studio that serves as a home away from home for all of the characters. The props even helped to develop and add to each of the characters’ personalities. The trash cans allowed Vera (Nicole Lockard, 12) to expand on her obsessive behavior by picking up bits of trash off the dance floor (more than once) while the piano gave Mrs. Fraser (Katherine Summerfield, 12) an extra comedic edge.
Costumes also served to accentuate the each character’s personality. The fancy (though at times over-the-top) outfits Vera wore mirrored her overbearing personality while the conservative clothing Andy (Keanna-Mae Bartolome, 11) wore mirrored her shy disposition. Even some simple accessories—such as the cross necklace Rose (Uriah Carter, 12) wore—defined each character’s personality well.
Of course, the actors’ talents really sold each character’s personality. Without each cast member’s amazing skills, the audience would not have laughed or sympathized with the characters nearly as much. Bartolome’s portrayal of Andy’s emotional journey was an incredible thing to witness, while Summerfield’s comedic timing was priceless. Lauren Ward (12) and Chandler Dalton (11) (respectively Maxine and Sylvia) had a wonderful chemistry as two good friends who enjoy the same kind of sharp sarcastic humor.
Benedict also did an excellent job of incorporating an old-school jazz feel throughout the play, which she accomplished both with through a major dance number involving canes and top hats as well as her music choice. The audience knew that time passed when either Maddie Lentz (12) or Mahogany Mayfield (12) came out on stage with just a “One Week Later” sign, a spotlight, and a short solo tap number to jazz music to indicate the passing of time. Those small numbers gave the play a lot of character.
Overall, Stepping Out is a fun, heartfelt play that is worth every penny. With a wide range of characters, it is a play that everyone can relate to on some level, making it enjoyable for all.
Dakota Sherek, Multimedia Editor of Manual RedEye.
Additional reporting by Ridley Prewitt, a senior at Manual in the CMA magnet.
Eileen Guan is a senior in HSU at Dupont Manual high school and a photo editor for Manualredeye.com. This is her first year on the Redeye staff.