Stepping Out | Chicago Reader

Stepping Out

Liza Minnelli stars in this stilted film adaptation of Richard Harris's play about a tap dancing class in Buffalo, New York, directed by Lewis Gilbert (Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine) in such a way that the obviousness and staginess of the material are underlined rather than minimized. Neither Minnelli nor the supporting cast—her tap dance students (Ellen Greene, Julie Walters, Bill Irwin, Robyn Stevan, Jane Krakowski, Sheila McCarthy, Andrea Martin, and Carol Woods) and rehearsal pianist (Shelley Winters)—can be faulted for the flatness of the proceedings, which seems to emerge both from the writing and from a standard Broadway-show premise (professionals pretending to be amateurs pretending to be professionals) that requires a great deal of pizzazz to bring off. Minnelli herself is effective in a couple of dance numbers (despite some underlighting in the first of these), and Peter Matz's background score is bouncy, but the thinness of the story and characters makes this a hopeless enterprise.

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