This unusual documentary combines age-old film clips of the original cast of the award-winning Broadway musical A Chorus Line from 1974 with audition tapes of the revival of the musical on Broadway in 2006. We were able to view many shots of Michael Bennett, the choreographer and Marvin Hamlisch who wrote the music for the show. The original A Chorus Line was the longest running production in Broadway history up to that time.
We become privy to conversations between Michael Bennett and Marvin Hamlisch wherein Michael tells Marvin he has hundreds of hours of taped sessions with Broadway dancers and doesn’t know what to do with them. From these tapes, A Chorus Line was born.
Michael Bennett’s original collaborator, Bob Avian, was the director of the revival and is seen in much of this documentary. The original leading lady Cassie, Donna McKechnie, is quite beautiful even today. She won the 1976 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance as Cassie.
The creation of A Chorus Line used the precedent-setting Workshop method which was pioneered by Michael Bennett and Joseph Papp, the producer. The method tests the production prior to its debut, incorporating changes when necessary. The Workshop is used for most Broadway musicals to this day and has helped to advance the careers of many new actors.
The revival tapes demonstrate the casting process used for the 2006 comeback of the musical. We are able to view the angst of the auditioners who are chosen as well as those who are not chosen. The collaboration of five or six people is used to make the final choices for the cast. One of these collaborators was the original Connie, played by Baayork Lee. She was instrumental in choosing the revival Connie and also worked with the dancers in their audition rehearsals. Three thousand persons auditioned for the show.
In the auditions, we hear some of the successful haunting songs that are still recognizable today, such as What I Did for Love, One, I Can Do That, At the Ballet, and I Hope I Get It.
An interesting sidelight was revealed in the documentary. Michael Bennett and Marvin Hamlisch were unhappy with the reaction of the audience at the end. Marsha Mason saw the show, perhaps in the Workshop, and told Michael that the ending was all wrong where Cassie, played by Donna McKechnie, did not get the job. They changed the ending so that Cassie did get the job and it worked beautifully with the audience.
The credits stated that Every Little Step was made as a tribute to Michael Bennett who died in 1987. I am always interested in everything about Michael as he grew up in Buffalo, New York, my hometown.
Documentary – Every Little Step (2008)