The imperious legacy of the original production of A Chorus Line, the supreme Broadway musical that ran for 15 years and won nine Tony Awards & the Pulitzer Prize, curses every attempt to restage it (a 2004 revival sank like a stone just like Richard Attenborough’s 1985 film version) but this superlative documentary, based around the lengthy audition process for the 2004 revival, features everything from Baayork Lee eating nails to archive footage from Michael Bennett’s original 1974 workshops, and it is one singular sensation (sorry).
Every Little Step charts the triumphs and tragedies of an army of highly skilled and talented performers who face an imposing selection committee that includes an original cast member and the original co-choreographer. The high-stakes auditions are just the beginning of Every Little Step’s joys as we go right back to the beginnings of A Chorus Line and hear from Donna McKechnie and - via recording - Michael Bennett himself as original cast and workshop participants dish about their upbringings, and their ambitions and dreams. These conversations were developed into the show’s script and many of the original cast were playing themselves.
This becomes a problem for the 2004 revival as sourcing Gen-Y duplicates to match an organic set of mid-Seventies identities proves to be next to impossible. The timestamped perfection of the original is partly why the 2004 revival stumbled and encountered poor reviews. But it’s the torsions that come out of this very contrast that makes Every Little Step so compelling.
Really great musicals roll around every five years or so, if that, and truly fantastic, joyous films are about as common. Every Little Step catches us some time by presenting a bit of both.
EVERY LITTLE STEP
United States, 2008
Directors: Adam Del Deo, James D. Stern
Stars: Bob Avian, Michael Bennett (archive footage), Marvin Hamlisch, Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, Jason Tam
Available on DVD - order here