Every Little Step

Posted by schnolis on May 15th, 2009 filed in Reviews

EVERY LITTLE STEPIn 1974 a group of dancers gathered at a workshop to share their personal stories. Those conversations were recorded on a tape-to-tape machine. All were different, but a few common elements became clear. Collectively they encompassed a journey of struggle, passion and perseverance. Michael Bennett, one of the members of the group, and some others arranged a cohesive plot around the stories, added some musical numbers and choreographed dance routines. They created from nearly nothing a musical sensation.

A Chorus Line debuted on Broadway in 1975 and became an immediate success. It practically swept the Tony Awards that year, for Director, Producer, several performers and more. It even won a Pulitzer Prize for drama, something infrequently accomplished for a musical. In 2005, the Bob Avian and some others from the original performance decided to stage another production, and had an open casting call. Three thousand performers from around the world showed up to audition. Every Little Step tells the story of that revival, and with it a whole new assortment of performers’ stories.

This film concentrated on the competition for a few key roles in the show: Cassie, Mike, Connie, and Val. We see in greater depth the dancers trying out for those parts, and here the film shines. The stories of the performers are blending in with the stories of the characters, and one thing becomes very clear. This is the quintessential performer’s show. Everyone who auditioned believed that A Chorus Line was their story. Each performer chooses years working hard, training, and sacrificing things everyone else takes for granted. For what? For a long-shot chance of getting cast in a big show. For their love and passion for the work. Nothing short of all-out dedication can prepare for that opportunity when it comes.

What I liked: Getting a behind the curtain look at how a musical like this is staged. It’s a drawn-out process with lots of difficult decisions to be made. Having not seen the musical itself, I was worried I might miss something, and that was not the case. A significant percentage of the musical numbers were at least partially performed, often by different auditioning performers and by prior cast members. The meta-comparison of Every Little Step to A Chorus line is a delightful treat. Both the show and the movie show us the individuals behind the otherwise anonymous faces of the chorus. I got the sense that I knew these performers and now long for the opportunity to see the show.

What I disliked: The movie tried to tackle a litle bit of everything: individual dancers’ stories, auditions, the original recordings, cast member selection, interviews with original cast members, etc. It really came off well, but I felt at times that the film was awash with all the different stories.

Rating: 9 of 10

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