‘Every Little Step’ will please fans of Broadway’s ‘A Chorus Line’

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, June 18, 2009 6:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Five, six, seven, eight: If you’re a fan of “A Chorus Line,” that long-running, high-kicking Broadway musical, you finally have your movie version.

No, not a musical called “A Chorus Line.” They tried that in 1985, and it stunk up the rafters.

“Every Little Step” is a documentary about the casting process of the 2006 revival production of “A Chorus Line” on Broadway. Think about that: a nonfiction movie about the casting process of a musical about a casting process.

See? This is the real thing. And if you were ever a sucker for the show (not that I was, ahem), “Every Little Step” will prove an absorbing companion piece.

This film includes some of the history of the original production, which began with director-choreographer Michael Bennett conducting all-night, soul-­searching conversations with dancers. According to legend, these tape recordings provided the basis for the narratives in “A Chorus Line.”

The casting process we watch takes months to unfold. It is led by Bob Avian, a lifelong artistic partner to Bennett (who died in 1987), and includes plenty of suspense about which auditioning dancers will get the show’s plum roles.

We also hear some anecdotes from Marvin Hamlisch, the effortlessly amusing composer of the show’s songs, and Donna ­McKechnie, the central performer in the 1975 production.

“Every Little Step” peers into the lives of some of the front-­runners in the auditions, for whom every callback is another lease on hope. Even though many of the dancers are clearly seasoned vets, this would be a major gig. Nobody is unaware of the irony in the show’s song that repeats the phrase, “I really need this job ….” They’re all living it.

It’s a little hard to keep all the faces and stories straight, but a few folks stand out: well-­traveled dance gypsy Charlotte D’Amboise, for instance, and her sultry rival Natascia Diaz. They’re vying for McKechnie’s old role as an experienced dancer reduced to trying out for the chorus line because she needs the work.

The breakout star is ­Chryssie Whitehead. If some producer doesn’t snap her up as the next Sandra Bullock, Hollywood is nuts.

It all comes down to the final auditions, which don’t always go the way you expect. These dancers are uncannily like the slightly weary, slightly desperate professionals they embody in “A Chorus Line,” and that bittersweet showbiz vibe is everywhere in this smart movie.

“Every Little Step”

Auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line” are documented here — in other words, this movie presents the nonfiction version of exactly the same story dramatized in “A Chorus Line” itself, that of dancers hoping and praying for a gig. The idea still works like a charm.

Rated: PG-13 for language

Showing: Harvard Exit

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