by Corey Hall
A Chorus Line looks intensely at the casting of a Broadway musical, so Every Little Step gets all meta, flipping back on itself by documenting the auditions for the show's recent New York revival. We're introduced to its original creative team — many of whom are involved with the relaunch — and meet a legion of bright-eyed hoofers and dancers, all ready to kill each other for a job. Now a venerable institution, the show was a huge risk upon its 1975 debut, and the film does a nice job reminding us how innovative it was then and is still vital today. There are ample doses of archival footage and audiotapes of the play's author Michael Bennett, surely a huge talent, though it occasionally seems he's being nominated for sainthood.
As self-absorbed as actors can be, the film is engrossing, and creates genuine suspense through little more than the tension of a spotlight on a blank stage, and a performer bleeding for a role. Occasionally the filmmakers tip their hand, lingering on one face or another, but more often we discover the winners organically, letting the best performances rise to the top. There are a few biographic glimpses, but mostly the action is centered inside the theater, the casting office or the sweaty rehearsal space, and the focus is on the internal struggle of the driven thespians. Some are hungry, most are ambitious and all just want to keep working in the life they love.
At the Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.