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"Every Little Step" ***1/2 (96 minutes)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"A Chorus Line" was one of the first Broadway shows I ever saw, and still one of my all time favorites. It now gets a wonderful treatment in James D. Stern & Adam Del Deo's outstanding documentary that chronicles the casting of the 2005 30th year revival.

The film becomes a reality play (perfect in this reality-crazed era) about the play that chronicles 17 dancers vying for roles in an unnamed production. The original creator, the late Michael Bennett (who died from AIDS-related lymphoma in 1987), culled hundreds of hours of taped interviews with aspiring Broadway performers to form one of the most successful hits of all times (it was nominated for 12 Tonys and won 9).

What is most fascinating is that the directors obtained past footage of Bennett obtaining those tapes and we hear the actual words of the dancers who laid out their collective souls to the recordings that formed the basis of the play. The directors then take us through rare decades long footage and recent interviews to show how absolutely timeless the production is.

You'll watch and care for several of the auditioners as they go through each grueling step of the process-just as their characters do in the play. Then you'll root and cheer for your favorites-not knowing the final selection until the end.

Taking part in the current selection process is Bob Avian, the original choreographer in the 1975 production, and the original Connie, Baayork Lee, who is a character herself, as she does the lineups & teaches routines to each of the participants vying for a spot on the roster. Interspersed are snippets (and, boy, did I yearn for more!) of the landmark music that has become a staple of our musical culture.

So what you have is not only the history of one of the greatest musicals of all time, but also added rare insight into what it takes to thrive and succeed in a cutthroat business where being the most talented doesn't necessarily mean triumph in the end.

A must see by anyone who loves the theater and the human toil and drama behind it!

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