Father Tony

Every Little Step

Filed By Father Tony | April 17, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: A Chorus Line, Adam Del Deo, Every Little Step, James D. Stern, Michael Bennett

Note from Bil: Everyone who comments on this post will be eligible to win one of three full sized movie posters from Every Little Step. Winners must live in the United States and will be drawn at random at midnight Pacific on Saturday, April 18.

"Eat nails! Eat nails!" screams Baayork Lee exhorting the young hopefuls knocking themselves out for her during an audition for the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line.

ELSposter.JPGAs the original Connie in the original 1975 production of that acclaimed musical, and as Restaging Choreographer with the revival, Ms. Lee knows something about eating nails. And here we have the problem with Every Little Step, the documentary movie that allows us into the actual auditions for the revival: I was torn between focusing on the enlightening recollections of those who were involved with the original production or on the energy of the equally fascinating young dancers competing for a part in the revival. I kept wanting to raise my hand to request a pause and a rewind of some particularly beguiling moment. When you see this movie, and I think you should, you just have to sit back and let it dazzle you.

The trailer and more after the jump.

From the synopsis provided at the screening:

EVERY LITTLE STEP explores the incredible journey of A CHORUS LINE from ambitious idea to international phenomenon. It compares and contrasts the original musical with the current revival....It goes behind the scenes with exclusive interviews and footage of the revival's audition process...The source material of A CHORUS LINE, those dead-of-night conversations, was recorded to audio tapes which have been locked away for decades [providing] insight into behind-the-scenes events.

In an exclusive and private sit-down interview for Bilerico, Every Little Step's two directors, James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, answered my complaint about the fact that the movie actually lets us hear precious little of those tapes. They explained that with 400 hours of footage and with the goal of showing the structural process behind the original and the revival, the tapes should tantalize without overpowering the material. They gave me a "you never know" shrug and a wink when I asked them if the complete tapes will someday be available.

I thanked them for including the simple close-up of Michael Bennett (who created A Chorus Line from many hours of taped sessions with friends who lived the life of Broadway "gypsies") as he is accepting his Tony Award for the original production. I asked them if they knew why that shot was so powerful. They did. Many in the theater with me had been moved to tears at that moment knowing that this genius would be soon be taken, as were so many other young Broadway talents in the early years of the plague, leaving us only to imagine the music and dance that would have been ours if not for the virus.

We discussed an even stronger moment in Every Little Step that Stern and Del Deo describe as "striking gold" in which Jason Tam, reading for the part of Paul, not only brought all of us at the screening to tears, but also had the show's original directors conducting that audition weeping. Any further description of that scene would be worthless, and even if you are familiar with that monologue, I can't imagine your getting through Jason Tam's audition dry-eyed.

Stern and Del Deo were eager to address my comparison of Every Little Step to American Idol and the like. They describe A Chorus Line as America's first "confessional" piece, long before there was Oprah or Idol. It could be said that Michael Bennett invented the form. While the movie is designed to make us wonder who will or will not survive the cutting process, Every Little Step is an Idol-like guessing game on only one level. It is more about the creative process and about giving us a voyeur's exploration into the evolution of a work of art and into the hearts of those who built it and those who cannot live without being a part of it.

Every Little Step opens today in New York and Los Angeles. Your Theater Queen card will be revoked if you miss it.

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I hope this comes to Atlanta

S Brian Walters | April 17, 2009 11:28 AM

I consider myself lucky enough to have seen Donna McKechnie dance the role of Cassie in the early 80's during a 10 year anniversary tour of A Chorus Line at the Starlight in Indy in the 80's.

Good god, I'm old!

I can't wait to see this! I saw the original touring company in San Francisco in '79 or '80 and the revival on Broadway in 2007. It's already in my netflix queue, just in case it doesn't make it to Milwaukee!

After hearing about A Chorus Line for what seems to be the last half of the 70's, and listening to the album until I had it almost memorized, I finally got to see an actual performance at Clowes Hall here in Indianapolis circa 1980.

Clowes Hall was relatively new then.

God, I'm old. (Did someone else already use that line?)

So far, the prospect of seeing this movie has done little more than make all of us feel spectacularly old! I'm in the club - I saw Chorus Line in its original London production in 70whatever - but as Yvonne DeCarlo sang in that other musical "I'm still here".

"I've been through Reno, I've been through Beverly Hills, but I'm here. Reefer and vino, rest cure, religion and pills, but I'm here" That's gonna be stuck in my head for the rest of the day, having wiped out "Flat and sassy, I would get the strays and losers, beggars really can't be choosers, that ain't it kid, that ain't it kid, fixed the chassis - how do you do - life turned into an endless medley of Gee it had to be you. Why?" You know the rest.

Actually, seeing the film was invigorating with some sentimental notes of a time not so long ago when those of us single guys on the prowl might be overheard saying "That's Michael Bennett over there. Whose he going home with tonight?" It was never me, but I was a runner-up one night.

SWEEEET, Father T for the blog and note. Your comments will make it extra special to see. On my list.

Cool, I teach a lot of Broadway stuff in my music school and love it. This one would be a cool one to do as a director........

I agree with Christophe, can't wait until this comes to Atlanta. I would love to hear the tapes from the inception of the show.

okay .. for those of us out in the wilds of the midwest or desert, when does this go to video?

Thanks for the wonderful tip!

I can't wait...the original wa so inspiring and I am not a dancer. The music and story are the best...every story and song holds your interest start to finish. I am eager to see this revival and I hope it stands on it's own two feet as a "second' singular sensation!"

I saw it with the original cast on Broadway on September 4, 1975, and a couple more times after that. It's still my all-time favorite musical. I really want to see this film.