In 1937 there were a lot of women wandering the RKO lot freely and they all saw the sign for free lip waxing and one thing led to another- STAGE DOOR!!!!
This is Terry Randall- she is a wealthy socialite who promised granddad that she would make it to broadway because she has determination and hearty pioneer verve. She has just arrived at the legen (wait for it) dary footlights club hotel for aspiring actresses. she brought 45 suitcases mostly stuffed with furs and books by John Bunyon.
Terry is immediately struck by how jaded and grumpy the world-weary gals are. They have seen the stained backsides of the casting couches pillows if you know what I mean.
Lady Footlights- played by Constance Collier gives her the tour. Here’s a chair that Mrs Fisk threw up on, an original sconce from the stage version of ‘Thats no Lady, that’s my wife’ and various other artifacts that make the cramped quarters, thin stew and bathroom hogging worth the rent.
there is a lot going on here- like Altman with more ruffles.
The hollow eyed Spector of anemia on the sofa is Kay- she was like Dame Judy for a hot minute- but now she’s like Vanilla Ice- she has an owl chorus following her at auditions going ‘who? who?’ Now she is out of work, out of money and Lady Footlights will only let her in the lounge area to smell the food and dust- but not the Helen Hayes wimple from the White Sister, oh hells no. Terry saw her play the 3rd rhino to the left in Lion King 2 seasons ago and wants to encourage her. Honestly, Kay needs a vitamin and a steno course.
Jean is Forced to share a giant room with Terry the pretentious baggage and also Terrys literal baggage. She is an expert at snark and tap. She is working on a routine for the nightclub circuit with Annie- while trying to avoid going on blind dates with Lucille Ball and her never-ending stream of pacific northwest lumberjack serial killers. A free meal is great, but….
When Jean isn’t uk’ing it up, she is taunting the amazing Gail Patrick- who is always on the receiving end of furs, chocolates and doo-dads from her ‘Aunt Susan’ who sends a car for her with a ‘don’t wear your knickers, niecy’ note attached every 3rd night. Jean probably won’t strangle her with her hosiery- it’s her last decent pair.
Meanwhile- Eve actually leaves the house- I assume henry the cat will demand couples counseling- and watches Terry just schwantz right past the big theatrical agents secretary and get herself a role in a big play! It’s the much talked about ‘Melancholy Mists of Autumn’. They march home and announce the audacity- it was Kay’s role! The first play Kay had had a shot at in 2 years and Terry stole it!!!!
But Kay is a serious trooper- she hides her pain and even tries to help the stiff Terry have an emotion.
Things are looking up all around- except for Kay, but that’s the plot. Annie and Jean get an audition! The kind that leads to a job!
This is great! jean even meets a fancy producer type! Who just happens to be Gails Aunt Susan!
Oh no good can come of this! He’s an oily customer that sends a car around for young ladies and then slobbers all over them- like Harvey Weinstein with lower cholestral!
She makes it thru dinner and then comes the show! My mother would have called it dating a foreigner- all Roman’ hands and Russian’ fingers! Jean barely escapes with her scanties in place!
Gail tries to warn her- that she is just one of a chorus line, but it just stiffens….her resolve to date him anyhoo.
Terry is finding out that maybe acting isn’t all in the head- she is tearing up the writer and directors nerves and chewing up scenery.
Her producer tries to comfort her! But she’s seen how Jean is being handled and wants to teach him a lesson!
She spots a picture of his supposed family that keeps him from committing and knows it’s hooey! So she acts all drunk and slinky when Jean stops by- better to let her think it’s Terrys fault than let Chester Cheata’stache break her girlish heart!
Lumberjack Update!!! Lucy has found the man of her flannel dreams and is going back to Wisconsin. Cuz no personal dream is stronger than a womans urge to make Bay-Bays. I hope her fab coat isn’t too much for DeepKneebend Wisconsin.
At last it’s opening night for ‘Autumns Glistening Wind’ and Terry is a basket case. All nerves, no talent, you knows? Lady Footlights has been coaching her.
Jean got free tickets and Alf is a repeat, so she’s going to see Terry- mostly to throw stale jujubes at her…..but she hears something…..it’s Kay.
Oh wells. Jean goes back to her room to loot Terrys closet. Kay? well, Kay spends the evening- performing a little balcony scene with St Peter!
Jean hot foots it to tell Terry- I mean what are friends for, right?
Thru the pain Terry is finally able to feel and she performs the play perfectly- like an aging Barbara Bach or some other noted performer. But she is unable to perform again and leaves the theatre- forever.
Next season the Footlights club welcomes another brave, idealistic group of actors in training and as usual- some go far and some end up being made into Pierogis by Lady Footlights. No one knows what happened to henry the cat.
photo credits: little me! Google images.