Stepping Out (1991)

PG | 109 mins | Musical, Comedy-drama | 4 October 1991

Director:

Lewis Gilbert

Writer:

Richard Harris

Producer:

Lewis Gilbert

Cinematographer:

Alan Hume

Editor:

Humphrey Dixon

Production Designer:

Peter Mullins

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The movie is an adaptation of writer Richard Harris’s stage play, which opened in London, UK, in Sep 1984. The play won the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy in 1984, and ran for nearly three years at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End. A New York production of Stepping Out ran on Broadway from 11 Jan to 15 Mar 1987.
       In 1985, various contemporary sources, including the 15 May ^Var and the 26 Jul HR, indicated that CBS Theatrical Films had acquired rights to Stepping Out and planned to make a feature film sometime after the play’s New York run. A budget of $13 million was anticipated.
       Five years later, a 23 Aug 1990 HR news brief announced the start of principal photography in Toronto, Canada. In the interim, Paramount Pictures had acquired the property. The studio planned to release the picture in spring 1991. Production notes in AMPAS library files clarify that principal photography began on 27 Aug 1990. Although a majority of filming took place on set at a Toronto studio, numerous locations throughout Toronto served for key sequences. A “gala talent show performance” was filmed before a live audience of 1,500 people at the Elgin Theatre. The cast also performed and filmed a show at the Mississauga YMCA. Interiors were shot at clubs, shops, and theaters in downtown Toronto, while exteriors were filmed in Buffalo, NY. Production notes claim that director Lewis Gilbert worked through the shoot “in sequence,” with the goal of inspiring the actors to “discover” and experience the linear development of their characters. Principal photography ended 16 Nov ... More Less

The movie is an adaptation of writer Richard Harris’s stage play, which opened in London, UK, in Sep 1984. The play won the Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy in 1984, and ran for nearly three years at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End. A New York production of Stepping Out ran on Broadway from 11 Jan to 15 Mar 1987.
       In 1985, various contemporary sources, including the 15 May ^Var and the 26 Jul HR, indicated that CBS Theatrical Films had acquired rights to Stepping Out and planned to make a feature film sometime after the play’s New York run. A budget of $13 million was anticipated.
       Five years later, a 23 Aug 1990 HR news brief announced the start of principal photography in Toronto, Canada. In the interim, Paramount Pictures had acquired the property. The studio planned to release the picture in spring 1991. Production notes in AMPAS library files clarify that principal photography began on 27 Aug 1990. Although a majority of filming took place on set at a Toronto studio, numerous locations throughout Toronto served for key sequences. A “gala talent show performance” was filmed before a live audience of 1,500 people at the Elgin Theatre. The cast also performed and filmed a show at the Mississauga YMCA. Interiors were shot at clubs, shops, and theaters in downtown Toronto, while exteriors were filmed in Buffalo, NY. Production notes claim that director Lewis Gilbert worked through the shoot “in sequence,” with the goal of inspiring the actors to “discover” and experience the linear development of their characters. Principal photography ended 16 Nov 1990.
       On 23 Dec 1991, Var reported that Stepping Out had “vanished” from theaters less than three weeks after its 4 Oct 1991 opening, grossing a mere $200,000 at the box-office. Director Lewis Gilbert attributed the lack of support for the $12 million picture to Paramount’s recent leadership change. A 20 Jan 1992 HR news item noted that the studio ordered only nine prints of the film, a fraction of the number typically created for a new release.
       End credits state: “Filmed on location in Toronto, Ontario Canada in association with Paramount Pictures Corporation (Canada) Inc. & The City of Buffalo, New York U.S.A. [and] also at Studioasisasis, Toronto, Canada.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Sep 1991
p. 3, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1991
p. 7, 19.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 1992.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Oct 1991
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
4 Oct 1991
p. 26.
Variety
15 May 1985
p. 6, 40.
Variety
30 Sep 1991
pp. 69-70.
Variety
23 Dec 1991.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Lewis Gilbert Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst photog
Still photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
1st company grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
1st asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set buyer
Prop master
On set prop
Prop buyer
Const coord
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Seamstress
MUSIC
Mus score
Dance mus arrangments
Mus editing by
Mus ed
Mus playback
SOUND
Prod mixer
Dubbing ed
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title coord
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Head makeup artist
Makeup artist for Ms. Minnelli
Asst makeup artist
Hairstylist
Asst hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
Unit pub
Prod accountant
Loc accountant
Prod coord
Asst to Ms. Minnelli
Asst to L. Gilbert & J. Dark
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the stage play Stepping Out written by Richard Harris (first performance Sep 1984).
SONGS
"Stepping Out," music by John Kander, lyric by Fred Ebb
"Happy Feet," by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen
"Heart And Soul," by Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael
+
SONGS
"Stepping Out," music by John Kander, lyric by Fred Ebb
"Happy Feet," by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen
"Heart And Soul," by Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael
"Mean To Me," by Fred E. Ahlert and Roy Turk
"Beyond The Blue Horizon," by Leo Robin, Richard A. Whiting and W. Franke Harling
"Isn't It Romantic," by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 October 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: week of 4 October 1991
Production Date:
27 August--16 November 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Global Film Distributors, B.V.
Copyright Date:
16 December 1991
Copyright Number:
PA551714
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed with Panavision® cameras and lenses; Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
109
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Canada, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30760
SYNOPSIS

In Buffalo, New York, students arrive at a converted church for a community tap dance class. Mavis Turner, the teacher, greets everyone by name, while Mrs. Glenda Fraser, the accompanist, sits at the piano, bored. A well-dressed British woman arrives and asks if she may enroll. The other students look at each other in surprise, but welcome the aristocratic “Mrs. Lionel Andrews” into the group. She tells them they may call her “Vera.” Everyone stumbles through the dance routine, smiling and having a good time. After class, Mavis meets her boyfriend, Patrick, at a downtown nightclub, where they perform a set of songs. The crowd applauds enthusiastically, and Mavis wants to sing an encore, but Patrick shows no interest. The next day, Geoffrey and Andy, two of Mavis’s students, walk to class together. Andy makes small talk about her husband, who is out of town. When they arrive at the church, Vera presses Andy for information about the socially awkward Geoffrey, conjecturing that, because he is the only man in their class, he must be divorced. However, the timid Andy does not wish to gossip. Class begins, and Mavis and Mrs. Fraser argue about the tempo of the music. The cantankerous pianist storms out, but Mavis follows and persuades her to return. A few days later, Mavis goes to the Center for Performing Arts to meet Pam Leichner, who runs the state-of-the-art complex. Mavis is impressed by the caliber of the students, and Pam Leichner notes that the instructors are all young professionals with extensive teaching experience. Mavis Turner reminds Pam that she was once a chorus line dancer in New York, but Pam makes light of her background. ... +


In Buffalo, New York, students arrive at a converted church for a community tap dance class. Mavis Turner, the teacher, greets everyone by name, while Mrs. Glenda Fraser, the accompanist, sits at the piano, bored. A well-dressed British woman arrives and asks if she may enroll. The other students look at each other in surprise, but welcome the aristocratic “Mrs. Lionel Andrews” into the group. She tells them they may call her “Vera.” Everyone stumbles through the dance routine, smiling and having a good time. After class, Mavis meets her boyfriend, Patrick, at a downtown nightclub, where they perform a set of songs. The crowd applauds enthusiastically, and Mavis wants to sing an encore, but Patrick shows no interest. The next day, Geoffrey and Andy, two of Mavis’s students, walk to class together. Andy makes small talk about her husband, who is out of town. When they arrive at the church, Vera presses Andy for information about the socially awkward Geoffrey, conjecturing that, because he is the only man in their class, he must be divorced. However, the timid Andy does not wish to gossip. Class begins, and Mavis and Mrs. Fraser argue about the tempo of the music. The cantankerous pianist storms out, but Mavis follows and persuades her to return. A few days later, Mavis goes to the Center for Performing Arts to meet Pam Leichner, who runs the state-of-the-art complex. Mavis is impressed by the caliber of the students, and Pam Leichner notes that the instructors are all young professionals with extensive teaching experience. Mavis Turner reminds Pam that she was once a chorus line dancer in New York, but Pam makes light of her background. After describing an upcoming charity event, she asks Mavis if her “little local people” might be willing to perform. Mavis maintains her composure and accepts, while declining Pam’s suggestion that Mavis use another choreographer. Later, Mavis informs the class about the opportunity. Although nervous about the idea of dancing in front of a large audience, the amateurs agree to perform. That night, Mavis goes to the nightclub, but Jerry, the club owner, informs her that Patrick cancelled his gig. Although Jerry invites Mavis to sing with the house band, she declines, professing her loyalty to her boyfriend. Before class the next day, Mavis works on choreographing a routine for her students. Her passion gets the best of her, and she dances an energetic Broadway-style solo, unaware that her student, Lynne, is watching. When Mavis strikes a final pose, Lynne applauds and sighs wistfully. Mavis notices that the girl seems upset, and Lynne, a nurse, confides that one of her patients has died. The dance teacher shares a few stories about her Broadway career, musing about what might have happened if she had not fallen in love and left the city. Later, after class, two students, Maxine and Rose, commiserate about raising children. Rose wants her son, Alan, to find work, prompting Maxine to reveal she is trying to fill a job opening at her clothing boutique. The next day, she hires Alan to make deliveries. Later, at class, Rose worries about her son’s behavior, but Maxine dismisses her friend’s concerns. Just then, Vera walks in wearing an ultramodern silver leotard. The students joke that she looks ready for space travel. Heedless of their comments, Vera encourages the other women to pay more attention to their appearance. Class begins, and the students fret about Mavis’s ideas for the show, which include using hats and canes. Refusing to cater to their insecurities, Mavis insists that everyone will be able to learn the routine. At home with Patrick, Mavis is surprised to learn he wants to move to Los Angeles. She reminds him about the upcoming show, but he dismisses her dance teaching as “a hobby.” At the next rehearsal, Mavis holds back her disappointment as the dancers fumble with their canes. The students suggest that each person have a solo, inadvertently insulting Mavis, who feels unappreciated. Mavis loses her temper, before apologizing and revealing that she is pregnant. Later, Patrick expresses frustration over the news, causing Mavis to declare she will not go to Los Angeles. With the charity performance only a week away, she returns to rehearsal with renewed enthusiasm. On the day of the performance, Andy’s husband asks her to drive him to the airport. She reveals that she has been taking tap dancing lessons and cannot miss the big show. Although he refuses to let her participate, Andy sneaks off to the theater for dress rehearsal, but when she drops her hat on the first run-through, she abruptly announces that she will not perform in the show. The other students are shocked. Lynne pulls Geoffrey aside to share her suspicion that Andy has an abusive husband. While the rest of the dancers prepare for their impending debut, Mavis talks to Andy and convinces her to perform. Andy’s husband arrives backstage, but Geoffrey punches him in the nose, and he leaves. Moments later, the emcee introduces the “Mavis Turner Tappers.” Mavis watches from the wings as her dancers deliver an admirable performance to a packed house. At the after-party, her students present Mavis a new pair of tap shoes. The following year, the “Tappers” are invited back to perform at the charity event. After Mavis’s introductory solo, the dancers entertain the crowd with a new routine, twirling their canes and hats with newfound confidence. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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