Reel Critic:

Fans of musicals will love this film

April 22, 2009|By Beth Temkin

“Every Little Step” is a new documentary that will delight Broadway musical lovers and students of musical theater — every little minute.

Directed by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, “Every Little Step” is exciting, fascinating and inspiring. Archival restoration and interviews give the history of the making of “A Chorus Line” in 1975. The film also investigates the creative minds behind the original and current incarnations.

The original idea of director/choreographer Michael Bennett was to interview 22 dancers about their personal struggles, which he recorded, and these tapes were later made into a play by Nicholas Dante and James Kirkwood, with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban.


“A Chorus Line” had a run of 6,137 performances — still the record for an American musical on Broadway. Along the way it picked up the Pulitzer, the New York Drama Critics Award and nine Tonys.

The film also documents the audition process for the 2006 Revival of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway. The call-backs were overseen by Bob Avian, co-choreographer and lifelong associate of Bennett. While backstage, Avian gives personal insights and encouragement to performers he likes, but at the same time, he adds, they have to make the part their own.

Those performers who made the final call-backs after eight months of waiting made their auditions stand out by virtue of their exceptional singing, exquisite dancing and passionate acting. The judges said it was hard to decide because each one was so great, so it finally came down to their likability. One of those auditioning for the role of Larry (Jason Tam) was so into his role, he brought tears to the eyes of the seasoned judges and was hired on the spot. And choreographer Baayork Lee, an original cast member, is a ball of fire as she yells out to the dancers, “Be hard as nails.”

The archival footage shows Bennett receiving his Tony Award, and Donna McKechnie’s unforgettable dancing and star turn as Cassie in “The Music and the Mirror.”

There is also a poignant interview with premier danseur/teacher Jacques d’Amboise (Charlotte d’Amboise, his daughter, danced in the 2006 Revival) who had to give up his career due to a knee injury.

The documentary is a rare look behind the scenes of the arduous audition process, and the anguish dancers go through only to get turned down. All of those auditioning who are shown in this film are highly trained, dedicated and desperately in need of a job.

Natalie Cortez’s emotional rendition of the hit song “What I Did For Love” is played in its entirety during closing credits.

?BETH TEMKIN has been a movie buff since the age of 3 when her grandmother took her to see “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.” ?BETH TEMKIN has been a movie buff since the age of 3 when her grandmother took her to see “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch.”

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