Documentary Captures Musical's 'Every Little Step' The documentary Every Little Step follows actors auditioning for a Broadway musical about ... actors auditioning. It documents the casting process for the 2006 revival of A Chorus Line, while also delving into the history of the show.
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Documentary Captures Musical's 'Every Little Step'

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Documentary Captures Musical's 'Every Little Step'

Documentary Captures Musical's 'Every Little Step'

Documentary Captures Musical's 'Every Little Step'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/102966175/102997007" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Michael Bennett, the creator of A Chorus Line, talks to the original cast during a rehearsal. Martha Swope/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

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Martha Swope/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Michael Bennett, the creator of A Chorus Line, talks to the original cast during a rehearsal.

Martha Swope/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Watch Clips From 'Every Little Step'

Casting

'I Can Do That'

Changing The Ending

Jason Tam played Paul in the revival of A Chorus Line. Paul Kolnik/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

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Paul Kolnik/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Jason Tam played Paul in the revival of A Chorus Line.

Paul Kolnik/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Listen To Audio Extras:

James Stern Talks About His Favorite Shot

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James Stern Talks About Keeping Quiet

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Bob Avian and John Breglio consult during the casting of A Chorus Line in the documentary Every Little Step. Paul Kolnik/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

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Paul Kolnik/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Bob Avian, John Breglio and Baayork Lee consult during the casting for the revival of A Chorus Line.

Paul Kolnik/Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

On the 'Monkey See' Blog

More than 30 years ago, Michael Bennett recorded more than 12 hours of conversations with Broadway hopefuls. Those conversations eventually became the musical A Chorus Line. Bennett's show took the stage in 1975 and became one of the longest-running musicals in history.

The new documentary Every Little Step traces the origins of A Chorus Line, while also following the lengthy audition process for the show's 2006 revival on Broadway. The film was directed by Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern.

Every Little Step uses tapes of Bennett's original conversations with dancers to delve into the show's history. The tapes were given to the directors by John Breglio, the producer of the 2006 revival and the executor of Bennett's estate. Bennett had told Breglio that a documentary should be made about A Chorus Line if a revival was ever staged.

The tapes and interviews in Every Little Step offer audiences a new glimpse into the development of the musical. For example, the film explains how Bennett changed the ending of the show after receiving poor reactions from the audience. The new ending earned a standing ovation and is still performed today.

"I think one of the pleasures [of the film] is to learn how small moments can change a show's trajectory entirely," Stern tells NPR's Scott Simon.

Viewers might also take pleasure in watching modern actors and actresses audition for a show about auditioning. Stern and Del Deo follow several of them throughout the casting process. One of the featured actresses, Jessica, makes it all the way from an open casting call to the final cut.

Although viewers might wonder how Stern and Del Deo knew the actress would be cast, Stern says that it wasn't just a lucky guess: "We weren't quite as prescient as all that," he says. "We could see her talent. ... The thing about Broadway is that it's a real meritocracy: If you're that good, you'll get cast."

Not all of the auditions in the film are successful. In one scene, Del Deo and Stern cut together a number of out-of-key auditions for a challenging song called "At the Ballet." The discordant sequence ends when one of the auditioning actresses finally hits the high note. But Del Deo insists that there aren't many critical moments in Every Little Step. He says that they didn't want the film to be like "a lot of reality TV shows that can be quite aggressive toward the dancers."

Another memorable audition included is Jason Tam's attempt for the role of Paul. Tam performs a monologue in which Paul talks about his parents coming to see him in a show for the first time. Tam's emotional audition leaves producer Breglio in tears.

Stern says catching Tam's audition on film is an example of the hard work that goes into making a documentary.

"We shot between 400 and 500 hours of footage," Stern says. "If you're not there all the time, then when something truly extraordinary happens at the spur of the moment, you're going to miss it."