Sunday, April 26, 2009


Every Little Step

Every Little Step We can all imagine how fierce competitions might be among actors trying to get a role in a Broadway production. Every winner is followed by hundreds if not thousands of losers. Although almost every audition process is brutal and "not for the weak of heart," unlike TV shows such as American Idol, we normally do not know the often deeply emotional behind-the-scene stories about those auditionees.

In 1975, when Michael Bennett brought audionees' personal stories into a Broadway musical "A Chorus Line," it won nine Tony Awards and became one of the longest running musicals on Broadway.

Three decades later, "A Chorus Line" is revived on Broadway. The audition process not only once again echoes the musical's story, it also produces a touching and endearing documentary "Every Little Step" (USA 2008 | 96 min.). The film pays tributes to artists of many generations.

The casting team consists of A Chorus Line's original co-choreographer Bob Avian and original cast members Donna McKechnie and Baayork Lee. Their task is to select 19 actors out of over 3000 auditionees. The film captures auditionees' heartfelt journeys and explores A Chorus Line's legacy.

The filmmakers bring us inside the audition studio and also those actors' lives through their observant and affectionate lenses. The film turns the harsh audition process into a suspensive dramatic tale about the dedication and struggle from these talented artists. Even we might have our own picks after each audition, all actors, especially those who do not get the parts, earn our respect and admiration.

Jason Tam as Paul , Photo by Paul Kolnik, 2006 ©, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

During a scene in A Chorus Line, a gay youth character Paul gives a monologue describing the moment when his parents come to see his performance. When Jason Tam auditions for Paul, his powerful deliverance not only brings me into tears, it also breaks down the casting team captured by the film, even they have heard the same lines for thousands of times. If anybody is not moved by Jason Tam's monologue, I will refund your ticket myself.

Regardless whether you like musical or not and whether you have seen A Chorus Line or not, this terrific documentary will inspire you as well as entertain you.

"Every Little Step" will be shown at the 52nd San Francisco International Film Festival on Sunday, Apr 26, 9:30pm at Castro Theater.

"Every Little Step" opens on Friday, May 8th at Bay Area Theater.


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