Thu June 11, 2009
Every Little Step
Not even West Side Story . . .
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"Kiss today goodbye/ The sweetness and the sorrow . . ." A Chorus Line
The business of show business, its pain and its glory, is never better depicted than in A Chorus Line, the 1974 Broadway musical smash of Michael Bennett's genius, reprised on stage and film to this day. In a sense, it is always pointed "t'ward tomorrow" with its eternal production and well-deserved acclaim for its incisive depiction of young actors trying out for the big time, with all the attendant sweetness and sorrow of competition, call-backs, rejections, and triumphs.
The documentary Every Little Step repeats that hard-won glory by recounting the process of the tryouts for the 2006 Broadway revival: The candidates go through the same Olympic-type workouts and tryouts as the characters in the fictional play, which itself was based on Bennett's interviews with young thespians. Not dull for a second, the doc watches several leading candidates on and off stage as they try for and sometimes win the roles that must fit them physically, temperamentally, and almost spiritually.
Unforgettable is Jason Tam doing Paul's monologue (a veiled Michael Bennett role) about his parents and his homosexuality. His crying is so believable that Bob Avian, the original choreographer and collaborator with Bennett, cries himself. Avian, in a sympathetic Simon Cowell role, is brilliant dealing with candidates and selecting the winners. He gives a good name to all the impresarios responsible for the productions to which we award Tony's and Oscars.
Watch out, this entertaining and tearful doc will get you looking on the web for a local revival of A Chorus Line, something that not even West Side Story could do.
"As we travel on,
Love's what we'll remember!
Kiss today goodbye,
And point me t'ward tomorrow.
We did what we had to do--
Won't forget, can't regret
What I did for love . . ."
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, Cinema Classics, and On the Marquee, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain
Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com