You think writers have it tough. Actors are all outward, public, on display. They don’t have words to hide behind. Every Little Step, a documentary directed by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, is meta-theatre at its best, a film about dancers struggling through auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.
A Chorus Line was based on the lives of real dancers, and in the original show, those dancers played themselves. So what’s interesting about the revival is how auditionees are vying for roles that were originally created from and inhabited by other real dancers–many of whom are still involved in A Chorus Line‘s creative process. Asian-American dancers auditioned for Baayork “EAT NAILS!” Lee—not just the original “Connie,” but the woman on whom “Connie” is based. “Cassie” hopefuls danced to “The Music and the Mirror,” a song tailored to Donna McKechnie’s unusually large range.
The film raises an interesting conundrum. How can an auditionee capture the essence of an original performer while still bringing something new to the role? How does she negotiate the legacy and lineage of each character? Every Little Step manages an intriguing communion with the past, between the original actors and the actors who reprized their roles.
“What does he want from me? / What should I try to be? / So many faces all around, and here we go. / I need this job, oh God, I need this show.”