FEET are busy shuffling away in Pinner and Hatch End, as members of PHEOS rehearse their latest production of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies – even though a few weeks ago many had never before attempted the art of tap dance.

The dedicated members of Pinner and Hatch End Operatic Society are just a week away from curtain up at Watersmeet Theatre in Rickmansworth, but hopes are high that it’ll be alright on the night.

Chorus member Jan Allanson, whose husband Peter is the PHEOS musical director, tells me she can’t wait to put her new skills into practice.

“Peter always says it’s not the end product, but the journey that makes the show, “ says Jan, who formerly lived in Pinner before moving to Chorleywood seven years ago. “We have all been working so hard in the last few weeks, so this should be a really wonderful production and I think it’s going to look absolutely fantastic.”

Follies is set in a crumbling theatre, scheduled for demolition, which is hosting a final reunion for past members of a musical revue that once played there.

The plotline focuses on two former showgirls, Sally Durant Plummer (Trish Lewis) and Phyllis Rogers Stone (Sue Reynolds), as well as their respective husbands Buddy (played by Steve Brown) and Ben (Jevan Morris). As they catch up on old memories, the showgirls remember the dreams they had and look at how their lives have turned out.

The show also features a memorable score penned by Sondheim, which includes such numbers as Broadway Baby, Too Many Mornings, Could I Leave You? and Losing My Mind. As musical director of the show, Peter, who has also worked with Radlett Light Opera and Harrow’s Harlequin Players, tells me has enjoyed working on Follies, primarily because of Sondheim’s score, but also because it has such a strong storyline.

“There are some incredible, real burlesque numbers,” enthuses Peter, who also founded the Chambermade Opera Group, which raises charity for local causes.

“But it’s also one of those musicals that has a really strong book, so it’s actually the whole package that’s good and when you add that all together it makes the show very exciting for audiences to watch.”

Peter has worked closely with director Clive Bebee, who is also a long-time performer with Grim’s Dyke Opera Company, to ensure their 30-strong cast “get the Sondheim style just right”.

And that attention to detail also extends to the set design, which includes a full-size white piano on stage and authentic 1920s costumes sourced by wardrobe mistress Sylvia Harding. “People should come along just to see the glitz and glamour,” adds Peter. “I think Follies promises to be a real spectacular.”

PHEOS presents Follies from Tuesday, May 12 to Saturday, May 16, 7.45pm, at Watersmeet, High Street, Rickmansworth. Matinee Saturday 2.30pm. Details: 01923 711063 or www.pheos.co.uk