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Steven Hilliard Stern
A director is casting dancers for a large production. Large numbers of hopefulls audition, hoping to be selected. Throughout the day, more and more people are eliminated, and the competition gets harder. Eventually, approximately a dozen dancers must compete for a few spots, each hoping to impress the director with their dancing skill. But, is this really what the director is looking for? Written by
Murray Chapman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Adrian Lyne was offered the chance to direct but declined because he did not want to become pigeon-holed as only a director of musicals. See more »
In the major dance scene, just at the end of the audition sequence, you can clearly see dancers who have been shown to be rejected. This scene isn't intended to be in continuity, but is more like a curtain call (as it was in the Broadway musical). See more »
For those who never saw A CHORUS LINE onstage and their only exposure to the story was this film, this film is OK as movie musicals, nothing special, just OK. I have seen the show on Broadway 4 times and even auditioned for a touring company of the show once and for someone who pretty much memorized the original production, the 1985 film version is so dreadful on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin. First of all, for those who have never auditioned for a theatrical production, let me assure you that IRL when you audition for a play, the director, producer, and choreographer never ask personal questions and don't give a crap about why you wanted to become a performer. A real theatrical audition, whether it be for a play or a musical, rarely takes more than five minutes. If you're auditioning as a dancer, you get shown a 64-bar dance combination once, you do it, and then they decide immediately whether you're in or out. Michael Bennett's original concept of the show was to flesh out the lives of dancers and introduce to the uninitiated the passion for performing and why so many sacrifice so much for so little. The play is about these dancers. First of all, director Richard Attenborough took so much focus off the dancers by beefing up the Cassie/Zach relationship and by casting Michael Douglas as Zach. In the play, you NEVER see Zach...he is just a voice in the back of the theater and his relationship with Cassie is barely touched upon. Cassie shown in the cab in traffic trying to get to the audition and upstairs talking to Larry (a character who is not even in the play)was all added for the movie and took so much focus off what the story is about. Major musical numbers were cut or rethought. The opening number in the play "I Hope I Get It" shows all of the dancers doing a jazz and ballet combination and then people get eliminated. In the movie they jam three hundred dancers onstage together and show them in closeup to disguise the fact that they have cast people in the film who can't dance (can you say "Audrey Landers"). "Goodbye 12, Goodbye 13, Hello Love", a brilliant vocal exploration of these dancers' childhood's jaundiced memories was reworked as "Surprise, Surprise" mainly a vehicle for the late Gregg Burge as Richie. The show's most famous song, "What I Did for Love" which in the show was a touching allegory sung by the entire cast about what they give up to dance, becomes just another standard love song in the film, performed tiredly by a miscast Allyson Reed as Cassie. Jeffrey Hornaday's choreography for the film is dull and unimaginative and doesn't hold a candle to Michael Bennett' original staging and when you're making a movie about dancers, the choreography has to be special. There are a couple of good dancers in the film, the previously mentioned Gregg Burge as Richie, Michelle Johnston as Bebe, and Janet Jones as Judy, but they are hardly given the opportunity to show what they can do, yet Audrey Landers, who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, is given one of the show's best numbers, "Dance 10, Looks 3." I will admit that the finale, "One" is dazzling, but you have to wait almost two hours for that. I would say that if you never saw A CHORUS LINE onstage, this film might be worth a look, but if you are a devotee of the original Broadway musical...be afraid...be very afraid.
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