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Lively revue gives due to old musicals

Hollywood musicals from the 1930s and 1940s will be praised and parodied in RiffRaff Productions' musical revue "Steppin' Out."

The show features familiar songs like "Over the Rainbow," "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" and "Anything Goes." It was created by Modesto native and keyboardist John Duerner, who has played in many local productions and was named a Stanislaus treasure at the 2006 Stanislaus Arts Council Excellence in Arts awards.

"It really is a glorified club act — a cabaret revue with a theme," said Duerner, who serves as director, musical director and accompanist and wrote the show in 1978 when he was living in Los Angeles.

Duerner was intrigued by how the light tone of old Hollywood films of the period contrasted so sharply with sad events like the Great Depression and World War II.

"When people went to the movies, the world they were presented with was completely different than reality," he said.

"Steppin' Out" likewise will consist of "controlled silliness," with performers camping it up and talking directly to the audience.

An ensemble piece without any stars, the show features Lonnie Brock, Sheila Donovan, Philip Fincher, Francesca Heyward, Kathy Lindsey, Richard Mann, Bruce Merchant, Corey Morris, Lorinda Ochinero, Angela Ruby, Linda Scheller and Deana Vinlove.

"These people have been wonderful to work with," Duerner said. "Of all the groups I've worked with in the last five years, this is the first company that delivers."

WHAT: "Steppin' Out"

WHEN: March 2-18

WHERE: Townsend Opera Players' Little Opera Hall, 611 H St., Modesto

TICKETS: $15 (Saturday's performance will benefit the nonprofit Educate Tomorrow)

CALL: 756-1758