EVERY LITTLE STEP
In 1975, A Chorus Line opened on Broadway and was greeted with unanimous raves from the critics. By it's closing on April 28, 1990, it had become the longest running Broadway show of its time, grossed over $300 million in the US alone, won the Pulitzer Prize and 9 Tony Awards, spawned a Hollywood film starring Michael Douglas, and helped drive a renewed interest in theatre. Every Little Step explores the journey of A Chorus Line from ambitious idea to international phenomenon. It compares and contrasts the original musical with the revival over 30 years later. It goes behind the scenes for exclusive interviews and footage of the revival's audition process, revealing the dramatic journey of the performers - just like the musical itself.
Review by Louise Keller:
A rousing glimpse into the life of a dancer, this involving, moving and thrilling documentary revisits choreographer Michael Bennett's multi-award winning stage show, A Chorus Line, by brilliantly cross-linking it with auditions for its 2006 New York revival. The result is an edge-of-the-seat experience grounded in the historical context of the show's 1974 origins, and one in which our hearts are put through the ringer as we become part of the audition process.
Bennett's unique concept began as a workshop in a studio, when he invited a group of dancers to talk candidly about their lives, struggles, hopes and dreams. The resulting stage show, combined with Marvin Hamlish's smash hit songs was a knockout, resonating with audiences around the world. It still holds the record for the most performances of an American musical on Broadway, and no wonder. It is in effect the story of Broadway, telling real stories about showbiz hopefuls as they reveal their ambitions, longings and fears.
I had goosebumps listening to the original audio tape in which dancers tell Bennett their stories in their own words. It feels like eavesdropping to a private conversation in which secrets are revealed. There is grainy archival footage of the Broadway production and interviews with some of its stars, like Donna McKechnie, who played the original Cassie and choreographer Baayork Lee. Then we meet a few of the 3,000 dancers hoping to claim the break of a lifetime. We are there for the first open call auditions and the many callbacks. The audition process mirrors the show itself and we become involved in the participants. 'You've got to like them right away,' says director Bob Avian, who was a long time collaborator of Bennett's. Not only do we have to like them, but we have to believe their stories and be moved by them. There is such a moment during the audition for one of the male characters whose script demands he candidly talks about being gay. We are not the only ones moved: tears trickle down Avian's cheeks. 'Sign him up,' he says immediately. But not everyone succeeds. There's heartbreak too.
The material is solid gold and filmmakers James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo piece the ingredients together with finesse. Every Little Step has a huge emotional impact and we are there with the chorus line every step of the way. The title comes from the lyric of the show-stopper One ('One singular sensation, every little step she takes'). We all know it was Barrack Obama who said 'Yes we can', but it was genius composer Marvin Hamlish who wrote 'I Can Do That', one of the inspired songs for the show. It's the blatant honesty and vulnerability of songs like At the Ballet, Tits and Ass, What I Did for Love that encapsulate the heart of Bennett's vision.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The emotional thrill of music and dance in the context of big time showbiz is an irresistible mix of high drama and intimate stories. The 1975 A Chorus Line captured the aching reality of dancers whose dreams were shattered or realised in an instant when their auditions failed or succeeded. This and the creative storm that came together in the making of the musical (and the film) continues to propel the story of its revival. It's a wonderful, complex, emotionally satisfying and finally uplifting work.
This doco is a gripping realisation of the audition process as well as a snapshot of the birth of the original. We are given intimate access to the dancers and the creative team, who are never exploited by the film, but whose feelings are evident.
The theatrical origins of the work are seamlessly converted to engaging cinema - and the camera does what the stage cannot: the close up. We join the production team at the auditions and secretly pick our choices for the bigger roles. We are privy to the process and it's real - what we learn is the profound passion that dancers carry with them on their career seeking journey and they infects us with that passion.
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EVERY LITTLE STEP (M)
CAST: Documentary with Michael Bennett, Ramon Flowers, Jessica Lee Goldyn, Natascia Diaz, Marvin Hamlisch, Megan Larche, J. Elaine Marcos, Bob Avian, Charlotte d'Amboise, Jacques d'Amboise
PRODUCER: Adam Del Deo
DIRECTOR: Adam Del Deo, James D. Stern
SCRIPT: Not credited
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Not credited
EDITOR: Brad Fuller, Fernando Villena
MUSIC: Jane Antonia Cornish, Marvin Hamlisch
PRODUCTION DESIGN: n/a
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 2, 2009