Follows the plight of real-life dancers as they struggle through auditions for the Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line". Also investigates the history of the show and the creative minds behind the original and current incarnations.
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Starting at midnight January 26, 1974, dancer and choreographer Michael Bennett held a twelve-hour taped get-together with twenty-two dancers talking about themselves, he not knowing exactly where it would lead. It would become the genesis for what has become one of the most influential Broadway musicals of all time, and a show which speaks to theatrical dancers' hearts: "A Chorus Line". In 2008, a Broadway revival of the show is being mounted, with many involved in the original production part of the creative team behind the revival. The issue for the revival's creative team is to make the show and the casting fresh, while respecting the original, where the characters, their stories and their related songs all came out of the 1974 dancers' stories, they who were cast in the original production. Although the names and the faces have changed from 1974, the dancers auditioning mirror many of the stories and issues faced by those original dancers. As such, they "really want this job" as ... Written by
Although this film is classified as a documentary, Charlotte d'Amboise, one of the stars of the revival of A Chorus Line, told Playbill Magazine that several scenes in the film, including the ones in which she and Jessica Lee Goldyn get phone calls informing them that they have been chosen for the cast, were staged - recreated for the documentary cameras. d'Amboise said that when they filmed her pretending to receive the news that she'd been cast, there was actually no one on the other end of the phone line with her. See more »
The directors of Every Little Step achieve their intended goal: getting the viewer's tear ducts to well up at least a couple of times, as we observe the travail of Broadway aspirants and young veterans vying for the coveted roles in a revival of A Chorus Line. But as a film and especially as a non-fiction (documentary) film, it is a complete failure. Instead of learning something, we are treated to at best misinformation and at worst a calculated distortion of history.
First of all, a documentary about the genesis of A Chorus Line in the mid-1970s and its impact makes sense -certainly it is a pillar in Broadway history and deserves that sort of attention. Its 2006 revival made a lot of money and entertained a lot of people, but is hardly a footnote in theater history, and does not merit this attention. So the subject of this documentary takes on a more universal theme, drawn from the play of course: "I Need a Job", and how difficult it is to compete with about 3,000 other people at auditions to get one. Sounds like "American Idol" and its many early weed-out episodes each year, and that is about the level of achievement here.
The distortions are crucial errors, either of omission or just plain intentional. The writers of the play, James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, are hardly mentioned at all, and this film leads the viewer to automatically infer that Michael Bennett created A Chorus Line on the basis of his marathon audio taping session of dancers, from which the play's characters and content were derived. The dancers Tony Stevens and Michon Peacock, who concocted these tapings in the first place, also get short shrift. Of course Bennett receives and deserves the lion's share of the credit and goes into the history books as Mr. Chorus Line, but to leave out his collaborators, especially as important as Kirkwood, is ludicrous. It took Pauline Kael to point out (quite forcefully) that Citizen Kane = Orson Welles was an exaggeration, bringing screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz back into the equation. The parallel in blowing up the director's contribution here is obvious.
Similarly, there are entertaining interview segments here with composer Marvin Hamlisch, who delightfully credits Marsha Mason with making a key suggestion to Bennett re: the fate of the character Cassie -that is one of the film's most informative moments. However, the film ultimately gives Mason, just a fan in the audience basically, more time and credit for A Chorus Line than Edward Kleban, who is never mentioned at all, yet wrote the lyrics for all the songs! Pretty damning omission -reminds me of the latter-day cult of Burt Bacharach -hardly ever mentioned in tributes to BB is Hal David, who wrote all those classic lyrics to Walk On By, Look of Love, Close to You, What the World Needs Now Is Love, Do You Know the Way to San Jose and so on.
I can see the cop out already: "we weren't making a film about A Chorus Line but just about the revival". But Bennett and especially the audio tapes leading to the original are central subjects in this film, so there is no excuse for distorting the record.
I grant that there are memorable moments in Every Little Step -such as the soon-to-be-legendary footage of an audition for the role of Paul by Jason Tam. But this is just footage culled from hundreds of hours of pseudo-vérité documenting of the 2006 auditions and rehearsals. The principals, especially director Bob Avian and his casting director, are on their best behavior because the cameras are running -the supposed "truth" of what we see strikes me as about as authentic as the whole corpus of Reality TV (I'm exaggerating, but the fallacy of cinéma vérité needs to be emphasized over & over again). What we have is more of a promotional video for the revival (who needs it?) than a documentary film, with about as much value (apart from preserving Tam's highlight for future excerpting) as the thousands of Making-Of promotions created for nearly every crappy movie coming out of Hollywood.
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