Is Every Little Step what you’d call a singular sensation? Sure, but just don’t call it one of a kind. In this documentary about A Chorus Line,
producers and directors Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern follow the
former’s conventions to a tee. “The show is our guide,” Stern noted.
And if you’re a fan of ACL
and especially its 2006 revival, the film will speak to your musical
theater nostalgia. Del Deo and Stern structure the film around the
songs in the show and the characters who sing them. For example, the
film begins with an open casting call in New York set to “I Hope I Get
It” and cycles through the characters’ songs, such as “At The Ballet”
and “The Music And The Mirror.” The notable exception here is Diana’s
songs “Nothing” and “What I Did For Love” missing from the
film–apparently that audition story was not as interesting as the
If you think about it, ACL has already done the footwork for Every Little Step.
If you love the characters and the songs from the Broadway musical,
chances are you’ll at least be interested in if not taken with this
documentary’s story. But is these much more beyond the original
choreography (so to speak)? Does the film do anything new?
brief bridges from one audition to another, Del Deo and Stern explore
the original tapes from when Michael Bennett conducted the interviews
that supplied the material for ACL. Baayork Lee, who was both
the inspiration for and the first to play Connie, talks about the
process of creating the show. In the end, though, this is not about ACL. This is the revival and its auditions.
is a problem here: for a film so geared toward a certain set of fans,
it is entirely possible that the audience already knows/remembers who
was cast in the 2006 revival. What, then, does Every Little Step
purport to do? Sure, we can learn about the people behind our favorite
characters and performers, and that in itself is interesting. At the
other end, it seems to be a rehash of the Broadway show itself but
under the label of “documentary.”
That’s not to say that the documentary isn’t enjoyable–it’s enjoyable, bottom line. It certainly plays to its audience of ACL
fans. You get the show you know and love: the performers who made it so
great the last time you saw it and the songs you know by heart. There
are moments you might even shed a tear, like during Jason Tam’s
heartfelt audition for the part of Paul (which he gets on the spot).
Mirroring ACL is unavoidable in a documentary about the show, but it seems that Every Little Step
rests too heavy on its inspiration’s laurels. It’s not clear what the
film is trying to do if it is even trying to do something different
from the musical. The concept of life imitating art imitating life is
surely clever, but not if the film doesn’t add anything new to the art
on which it’s commenting.
Every Little Step opens this Friday, May 8 in San Francisco. Info.