Aspen SummerFilms: Please, God, they (still) need this job | AspenTimes.com

Aspen SummerFilms: Please, God, they (still) need this job

Stewart OksenhornAspen Times Weekly

A Chorus Line

ASPEN – Speaking of his documentary, “Every Little Step,” co-director/co-producer Adam Del Deo speaks of a mirror and a reflection. But that understates the nature of the film, which at times can thrust the viewer into a hall of mirrors, where reality is reflected and reflected back, creating an overlapping of time and space.”Every Little Step” – which opens the SummerFilms program on Sunday and Monday, July 5-6, at Paepcke Auditorium – is a documentary of the landmark Broadway musical, “A Chorus Line.” The film, co-directed by James Stern, intertwines footage from the making of the original 1975 production with the story of the 2006 revival, and puts a particular emphasis on the actors auditioning for the later production. Here’s where things get interesting: “A Chorus Line” is, of course, a play about actors auditioning for a part in a play. While outright confusion is held to a minimum – thanks to the vintage look of the 1975 footage – the viewer has to remind herself occasionally where the stage ends and where real life begins.”The opportunity that presented itself, that struck me right out of the gate, was that we were following thousands of dancers out of New York, struggling, putting their heart and soul into it,” said Del Deo. “And what was interesting was that Michael Bennett” – the producer, director and choreographer of the original “A Chorus Line,” who is featured prominently and lovingly in Del Deo’s film – “had done the same thing in New York 35 years ago. There was an organic mirror in place, reflecting time. We talked a lot about Fellini’s ‘8 1/2,’ in which he made a film about a director struggling to make a film. You’re going through different layers; life and art are blending on screen.””Every Little Step,” however, does not dwell on its own metaphysics. Instead, the focus is on the same thing “A Chorus Line” was about, the same thing Bennett began with in launching the project: the enormous devotion Broadway hopefuls pour into their ambitions, and the long odds against them. The film’s early scenes make those odds vivid, showing rehearsal studios packed with dancers – and you know that only about one in 100 will be there when the revival actually hits Broadway.”What we found powerful was the idea that thousands of kids could show up and audition, show up believing they could get a role in the play,” said Del Deo. “But we knew that only 20 people get in the show. But these are professionals; they know what they need to do. They’d rather give up a meal than give up one of their dance classes.”There is yet another parallel at work here: People going through the audition process in front of cameras is bound to bring to mind the current crop of reality TV shows, where dreams are dashed while the film rolls. But the “judges” portrayed in “Every Little Step” – especially Bob Avian, director of the revival of “A Chorus Line” – come off as supportive and gentle with the actors.”They instill a sense of dignity into this world,” said Del Deo, who came to “Every Little Step” with little knowledge of Broadway’s inner workings. (Stern, on the other hand, is a seasoned Broadway producer.) “‘American Idol’ – that’s more fame-based. These people [auditioning for “A Chorus Line”] know, even if they get the job, they’re not going to be famous the next day. They’re just going to get a chance to sing and dance.”Michael Bennett created this show because he had an affinity for these people. He thought, what better way to pay respect than to create a show about them? We had a lot of respect for the people coming through the door.”(Charlotte D’Amboise, a cast member of the 2006 revival of “A Chorus Line,” will participate in a Q&A following the Monday screening.)stewart@aspentimes.com

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