Thursday, April 16, 2009

Movie Review: Every Little Step

Rated: PG-13

Website: Every Little Step official site

My Review: When it comes to musical theater, I am the gayest straight girl you’ll ever meet. I can, and will, sing show tunes from nearly every show in existence and can even be convinced to attempt the occasional dance routine, despite my dancing abilities not being much better than Elaine’s on Seinfeld. So a documentary that chronicles the audition process of the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line is like a drug fix for people like me.

A Chorus Line is a musical that goes behind the scenes of a Broadway audition and allows you to see a glimpse of what the nameless and faceless dancers go through to pursue their dream of stardom. Every Little Step is a documentary that goes behind the scenes of the casting of the recent revival of A Chorus Line, so I guess that means next year there will be a stage musical about the creation of this documentary. Every Little Step covers pretty much everything you would expect; the misty-eyed back story of a few selected cast hopefuls, the brutal cuts made by the casting directors, the talking head interviews where you’re told that the dancers need to have a certain “it” factor…it’s pretty much like the first 15 minutes of Fame extended into an hour and a half. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if all you want is to see the dancers dance and the singers sing.

The best part of Every Little Step is the footage of the original 1975 production of A Chorus Line that gets interspersed with the story of casting the 2006 revival. The story of the show’s creation is a lot more interesting than the story of the good but not great revival, but obviously no one thought about seriously documenting the process back in 1975. But someone managed to get their hands on some footage from the original production and recorded interviews with the late creator and director Michael Bennett, which get worked into the story of the revival, along with some interviews with veterans of the original production, like original Cassie, Donna McKechnie, and composer Marvin Hamlisch. Original Connie, Baayork Lee, is the choreographer for the revival, and seeing the terror in the auditioners’ eyes as they try to impress her is amusing to say the least.

Where the documentary falls short is in the fact that it doesn’t really teach you anything or shed a new light on an old convention, which is sort of the point of documentaries. Is there anyone out there, even non-musical fans, who doesn’t know that the life of a professional dancer is a grueling one, filled with inflated egos and bitter disappointments? After umpteen interviews with various auditioners talking about how their unemployment benefits have run out or how they’re still waiting for their “big break,” I couldn’t help but think, “Yes, a performer’s life is tough, we get it. Next musical number, please.”

Bottom Line: Is Every Little Step one singular sensation? Not quite, but it is an enjoyable look at the recreation of a theatrical classic, and a must-see for anyone who has ever chanted, “I really need this job, please God I need this job, I’ve got to get this job!” before a job interview (which, yes, I do and will continue to do because “I can do that”).

1 comment:

  1. "When it comes to musical theater, I am the gayest straight girl you’ll ever meet." See, and I thought this was just a geeky straight girl thing.