Patsy Palmer stars in a new revival of Richard Harris’ Stepping Out this month. The production opens at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 25 January 2005 before continuing, until 14 May, to 11 further venues.

Written in 1985, Harris’ play, which won the Evening Standard award for Best Comedy, follows the lives, laughs and loves of a weekly tap-dancing class with nine ladies of assorted ages, ambitions and sizes plus one man who doesn’t want to be noticed.

The story was filmed in 1991 - with a cast including Julie Walters, Liza Minnelli and Shelley Winters – and was also turned into a stage musical (book by Harris, music by Denis King, lyrics by Mary Stewart-David), which Julia McKenzie brought to the West End in 1997.

Palmer, best known for her long-running role as Bianca in EastEnders, has appeared regularly on stage since leaving the TV soap in 1999. Her theatre credits have included Tell Me on a Sunday, Squint, The Night Before Christmas and, in the West End, Mum’s the Word and We Happy Few.

Also in the cast of Stepping Out are: Chrissie Furness, Nicky Callanan, Yvonne Edgell, Norma Atallah, Sarah Haynes, Matthew Phillips, Suzie Chard, Yvonne Newman and Sara Weymouth. The new production is directed by Martin Connor, designed by Julie Godfrey, choreographed by Bill Deamer and produced by Bill Kenwright Ltd. After Windsor, it calls at Coventry, Richmond, Westcliff, Cardiff, Belfast, Leeds, Cheltenham, Nottingham, Mold, Stoke-on-Trent and Malvern.

Two days later, on 27 January 2005, Frozen author Bryony Lavery’s modern stage adaptation of Dracula receives its world premiere at Bromley’s Churchill Theatre before touring, until 9 April, to eight further venues ahead of an anticipated West End transfer.

Written in 1897, Bram Stoker’s classic novel of sexual repression and Gothic horror is the ultimate vampire story. It has inspired myriad versions for stage and screen. Amongst some of the best known are the 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi, based on Hamilton Deane’s Broadway play, and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 blockbuster featuring Gary Oldham and Anthony Hopkins.

In the new stage production, Richard Bremmer (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; Julius Caesar, The Mayor of Zalamea on stage) takes the title role of Count Dracula, who Christopher Cazenove (TV’s Dynasty; Art, London Suite, Brief Encounter on stage) as Van Helsing, is desperate to rid the world of. Hywel Simons (TV’s Heartbeat, The Bill) plays Van Helsing’s ready assistant Dr Seward.

This new production of Dracula - which carries a warning that it’s unsuitable for under-14’s – is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and designed by Ruari Murchison, with lighting by Rick Fisher, video by Mic Pool, sound by Fergus O’Hare and illusions by Scott Penrose. Following Bromley, Dracula continues to Stoke-on-Trent, Nottingham, Marlowe, Darlington, Poole, Richmond, Cambridge and Cheltenham. It’s presented by Jenny King for the Touring Consortium.

- by Terri Paddock