I came to this documentary with a lot of excitement in my heart. I wanted to like it so much. After all, a documentary about the making of an iconic American musical was a major no-brainer for a dancer-turned choreographer and teacher at a university. It was meant to be loved by me.
So why didn't I love it? Why didn't I even like it a little?
The first ten seconds.
All directors Adam Del Deo and Roger Stern had to do was mention two names and I was would have been set for a solid and truthful documentary about the creation of A Chorus Line and its recent award-nominated revival on Broadway. But they didn't. Why do the history writers keep wanting to forget Michon Peacock and Tony Stevens? These two do matter. One biographer of Michael Bennett knew this. The others? The others probably don't know that Peacock and Stevens were the two disgruntled dancers that went to Bennett with the idea of having a rap session to commiserate and get past the fear that the Broadway musical and dance-based musicals were on their way to becoming a thing of the past.
But that is a little thing to base such an opinion on, and it seems small of me. But it isn't. It's as big as the next point of contention. The whole reality-show feel to casting the the 2006 revival make please many; it did little for me. It seemed that about fifteen minutes into this process, that the producers had an agenda about who they wanted to out on the line. With maybe one exception, they had a pre-conceived idea of who they wanted on that line for this revival. In some cases, it added depth to the show(Charlotte D'Amboise as Cassie was positively semi-autobiographical or Deidre Goodwin receiving the role of Sheila can give hope to seeing more diversity in productions of ACL in the near future) and in some cases, it provided some unintentional humor at the expense of a personality(is Tyce D'iorio really that vain? the answer is yes) or levity (Chrissie Whitehead is a sweet and ingenuous bubble in a world that is still dark with tension, doubt and unknowing). But very rarely did it ever seem that anything was at stake. Outside of the tears of vindication and the bittersweet shows of optimism in the face of not being cast, nothing seems to be at stake. There was very little tension in the audition process.
As the cast for the newest Broadway production came together, one other aspect of the show was affirmed for me. Although the piece has always been driven by getting to know sixteen dancers, one assistant and an a up-and-coming director-choreographer, the material only reveals anything about a select few of them. Bennett gave a showcase to his muse Donna McKechnie; 'The Music And The Mirror' is still the test of a female dancer-singer's mettle. Co-writer Nicholas Dante's 'Paul' monologue is likewise the same type of challenge to a young actor. Personally, I have never liked this monologue but Sammy Williams' tony-award winning take has yet to be matched. Maybe the reason that Jason Tam wound up with the role was because he wasn't afraid to be himself. The others pretended. And Maggie's vocal solo in the poetic 'At The Ballet' is also a challenge to female singers in this heyday of singing as loudly as one can.
So why does the show, slightly dated as it is, still holding interest for me? The back story is great. The movement is still beautiful to behold, and it is still fun to hear the anecdotes of those that were a part of that original line as brought forward by the hard-working, well-intentioned but not always sure directors of Every Little Step. By including bits and pieces of McKechnie prowling that stage as Cassie or Williams sending that sticky monologue out to the last seat of the Shubert like a rapier blade or footage of Baayork Lee at the School of American Ballet barre, I ache to see that original cast doing their thing in a three camera shoot. I, personally, would like to have seen more of that and less of the revival coming together. I would definitely have liked to have heard more anecdotes from surviving members of the original cast. And I would have loved to have watched Lee and Bob Avian working together to get that revival on stage. Watching the show come back to life would be and is more fulfilling than the casting of it. In short, the Del Deo and Stern haven't even started to dance--they're still marking time.
In 1976 A Chorus Line debuted on Broadway. A show about dancers trying out for a show- it celebrated the work and passion of countless hopeful young men and women who have traveled to New York City to pursue their dreams of making it on Broadway. Every Little Step follows the audition process for the revival of A Chorus Line. A documentary about people auditioning for a show, which itself is a psuedo-documentary about people auditioning for a show doesn't sound fun to you? Me either, actually- … more
Every Little Step follows the plight of real-life dancers as they struggle through auditions for the Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line". This documentary also investigates the history of the show and the creative minds behind the original and current incarnations