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Behind the scenes

Movies | Every Little Step will thrill theater and dance fans

Issue: "On the road again," May 9, 2009

A Chorus Line is a musical documentary about the lives of master choreographer Michael Bennett and his performer friends. Every Little Step is a documentary about A Chorus Line. Confused yet?

Co-directors James Stern and Adam Del Deo have made something that is not quite a traditional history-lesson documentary and not quite reality TV, with the most entertaining aspects of both genres mined for maximum entertainment value. Stern and Del Deo follow a half dozen wannabe stars through one of the most arduous open calls in Broadway history-over 3,000 people showed up to audition for the 2006 revival of the popular show.

For those who don't follow theater, it's almost unheard of to have an open call (where anybody can audition) for all the major roles in a Broadway show. Usually, the parts go to tried-and-true actors and actresses, but since A Chorus Line is a musical about the average joes in the back row, the producers decided to open the process to real-life unknowns.

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What follows is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, as dancers and singers give interviews about having always wanted to dance on Broadway-and then deliver monologues and sing songs about having always wanted to dance on Broadway in front of producers who may or may not give them their shot. Stern and Del Deo mine the high concept for all it's worth, showcasing the incredible physical abilities of people who've spent their entire lives training for this one moment, and the result is frequently beautiful.

The film (PG-13 for some cursing and sexual references from the musical's very frank script) is not for kids, who will probably be bored, but anyone who loves theater or dancing is likely to be thrilled by the show's inside info (the interviews Bennett used to devise the show are excerpted throughout). They'll also get a chance to see some of the best dancers and singers in the world preparing for their two-minutes-each shot at their dream.

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