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A stumbling, flat-footed West End revival

REVIEW: Stepping Out

Vaudeville Theatre, London

★✩✩✩✩

In the run-up to this show’s first night, Tamzin Outhwaite had to step out with a stress fracture to her foot. It’s the kind of injury you cannot hide when you’re playing a tap dance teacher — not even in a comedy that creaks like an old boot walking across a loose floorboard.

So at short notice the classy Anna-Jane Casey has stepped in as former chorus girl Mavis who, in Maria Friedman’s plodding revival of Richard Harris’s 1984 West End hit, teaches tap every Thursday evening to the motliest group of seven women and one man ever to set foot into a dance shoe.

They are played here by a fairly starry cast including Amanda Holden as posh and unpopular Vera and Outhwaite’s fellow former EastEnder Tracy-Ann Oberman as bawdy Maxine.

Two Pints Of Lager’s Natalie Casey (sister to Anna-Jane) plays Sylvia, the ungraceful wife of a small-time crook, while Dominic Rowan (Law And Order: UK) is the hapless Geoffrey.

The plot makes much of the friendships and frictions that form across class divides as Mavis drills her ungainly pupils into a chorus line fit for a charity fundraiser. But the comedy has all the edge of a wet rag. Holden is chained to a caricature who is obsessed with cleaning.

A line about Geoffrey sticking out like a ‘sore thumb’ is clichéd, but when it’s turned into a dubious gag about the play’s only black character Rose (Sandra Marvin), you wonder how anybody thought dusting off this bore was a good idea.

Outhwaite, whose foot is expected to heal quickly, is due to return soon. But if I were her, I’d walk.