Sunday, July 5, 2009

Every Little Step

Thursday night, Danielle, Becca, and I caught a documentary at the Cabot Street Cinema in Beverly. It was a good excuse to see each other again and to be a bunch of theatre nerds. Because what was this documentary about?

Oh yes, yes it was about A Chorus Line.

The three of us saw Every Little Step, which chronicles both the creative minds that wrote and produced the original 1975 production of A Chorus Line as well as the production staff who tries to cast the 2007 revival. Danielle was in A Chorus Line in 2003, I saw it several times, and Becca is a super dancer, so we are a good audience for this show.

One part of the movie focuses on Michael Bennett, the choreographer who thought up the idea behind A Chorus Line, as well as interviewed 22 dancers in the business over 12 hours, and took those interviews and stories and created the characters we see on stage. He also got together some of the greatest talents in the business to write the songs and produce the show. The movie features interviews with dancer Donna McKechnie (original Cassie and dancing genius), dancer Baayork Lee (original Connie and choreographer of the revival), composer Marvin Hamlisch (who composed the music of ACL), and choreographer Bob Avian (who co-choreographed the original production and directed the revival).

The other part of the movie focuses on the efforts of casting the revival. The movie focuses on a few dancers, including the green newcomer who showed up for the open auditions, the seasoned dancers who want a big break, and the hard working dancers who charm but don't make the cut and have to start all over again for another role. Many parts follow several actors going for the same role, which recreates that heartache of the musical itself of good people just not making the cut.

I'm always impressed by people who can sing and dance and have all that talent, and it's incredible seeing a room filled with people who can. I am not blessed with those talents of dancing, so I have lots of respect who can make it happen. And having spent years doing theatre, I know the heartbreak of not getting cast, and making it so far into the process only not to get a role. So I really felt for these people. You put so much of yourself on the line, and the final decision isn't in your hands. It's also hard spending your whole life and career trying to please and impress others.

It was fascinating seeing the production crew discussing the actors and debating the merits of each and why they made the choices they make. I found myself torn, since I was getting emotionally invested in the people behind the performance. But that's not what they're paid to do, so I have a lot of respect for them trying to create a great cast, knowing that they have to upset many people along the way.

The story of ACL stands up years later as well. I strongly recommend catching this movie if you've ever done theatre or dance, or if you tend to be drawn towards dance and the arts. The film tends to assume that you're in the know when it comes to the arts, but they also know that's the target audience. So try to check it out.

And for some dancing and enjoyment, her are some videos. The first is the original cast performing the opening of the show for the 1976 Tony's. (the song is I Hope I Get It), and the second is the revival performing One at the 2007 Tony's.

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