‘A Chorus Line’ documentary rings theatrically—and terrifyingly—true.
By Neil Ellis Orts
Every Little Step documents the casting of the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. There’s a bit of surreality to it all—a documentary about an audition for a show about auditioning—but it also highlights the impact of this show on a generation of theater artists. At the very least, as one auditioning actor noted, many actors since 1975 have had the opening song running through their minds as they stood before directors and gave it their all. “God, I hope I get it! I hope I get it!”
Roughly 3,000 people came to the first round of open auditions, all hoping to fill one of the 19 roles. That’s heartbreaking enough, but to also see the people on the other side of the table, among them the original “Connie,” Baayork Lee, and original co-choreographer, Bob Avian (who directed the revival), investing just as much passion and hope in casting the show, gives an all-around picture of the terror and joy of making theater. The absolute highlight is when an actor, auditioning for the role of “Paul” (the troubled gay youth), leaves the room and the table of Broadway professionals, many of them involved in the original production, to dissolve into tears.
This documentary is a dream. From the archival footage of Michael Bennett to the phone calls telling actors they got the part, it is spellbinding and as full of tension and drama as you’d hope to find in a movie.
Neil Ellis Orts also profiles Trey McIntyre in this issue of OutSmart magazine.
Photo caption: Dance—ten, looks—gay: when A Chorus Line hit Broadway in the mid-’70s, the coming-out confessional by the gay character, Paul, was considered a big deal. In Every Little Step, Jason Tam plays that role, portraying Paul’s angst with conviction and clarity.