Stepping Out (1991 film)
One-sheet promotional poster
|Directed by||Lewis Gilbert|
|Produced by||John Dark
|Written by||Richard Harris|
Eugene Robert Glazer
|Music by||Peter Matz|
|Editing by||Humphrey Dixon|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release dates||October 11, 1991|
|Running time||106 min.|
Most of the actors are Broadway-level actors and performers, several of whom have won Tony Awards, specifically Minnelli, Krakowski, Martin, Irwin and Greene (nominee). Winters and Minnelli are Academy Award winners. Woods was the only member of the Broadway cast to appear in the film.
A "has-been" Broadway performer moves to Buffalo and starts teaching tap dance lessons to a group of misfits who, through their dance classes, bond and realize what they can achieve. Their newfound self-confidence changes their lives forever.
- Liza Minnelli as Mavis Turner, a former Broadway dancer who currently teaches a tap class in Buffalo, New York
- Bill Irwin as Geoffrey, a shy, widowed insurance salesman, interested in Andy
- Ellen Greene as Maxine, a cute, funny, and slightly wild mom
- Robyn Stevan as Sylvia, a loud-mouthed buddy of Rose.
- Jane Krakowski as Lynne, a delicate, sensitive Registered Nurse, one of the best dancers
- Sheila McCarthy as Andy, a mousey battered wife, who sees a possible relationship with Geoffrey
- Andrea Martin as Dorothy, a naive but sincere housewife
- Julie Walters as Vera, an insecure, wealthy, and often abrasive woman
- Carol Woods as Rose, a vibrant woman with a teenage son who gets into trouble
- Shelley Winters as Mrs. Fraser, a dour rehearsal pianist who longs for a connection with others
- Luke Reilly as Patrick, Mavis' conceited, insensitive husband
- Nora Dunn as Pam, director of the upscale dance center, a rival to Mavis
- Eugene Robert Glazer as Frank
- Géza Kovács as Jerry
- Raymond Rickman as Alan
Differences between play and film
In order to appeal to a broader audience, and to justify the hiring of headliner Minnelli, the setting of the play was transferred from a gritty North London suburb to gritty Buffalo, New York. Mavis' back story was expanded to allow her a chance to sing more; in the play she has a role equal to those of the students.
The students' personalities are generally the same on stage and screen, although minor plot strands have been omitted. For example, Rose was initially a Trinidadian, a significant immigrant population in London. Any character outside the class is an addition for the film, as well as any scene outside the classroom plus the final production number.
John Kander and Fred Ebb wrote a new song for the film, the title number, which is given a rousing (and lengthy) presentation at film's end, in which the formerly awkward troupe reveal themselves to be strikingly gifted performers. The number also serves as a fine example of the singing and dancing talents of Minnelli.
The film was released only in a very limited format (seven theaters) on October 4 1991, and grossed $246,000 total in the United States.
Variety, in its 1991 review described the film as "It's Liza-as-you-love-her in Stepping Out, a modest heartwarmer about a bunch of suburban left-feeters getting it together for a charity dance spot. Fragile ensemble item often creaks under the Minnelli glitz, but results are likeable enough." Roger Ebert gave the film a moderate review stating "The [stage play] contained more dancing and was generally more engaging, maybe simply because it was on the stage. As a song-and-dance picture, it talks too much. As a drama, it's superficial and locked into a formula."
- Stepping Out at the Internet Movie Database
- Stepping Out at allmovie
- Stepping Out at Rotten Tomatoes
- Channel 4 review