| This documentary from co-directors James D. Stern and Adam Del Rio follows the rigorous audition process of 3,000 dancers vying for roughly two dozen roles in the 2006 revival of the timeless, high-profile musical "A Chorus Line" created by the late genius choreographer Michael Bennett.
The Actors' Equity Association gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to the unfolding dramatic journey where life imitates art imitating art.
The title comes directly from the lyrics in the song "One." All of the great songs from the musical are played throughout this in-depth, groundbreaking documentary. Composer Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote all the music, is interviewed in the movie.
The framing device for this project is the never-before-heard audiotapes of the initial 12-hour workshop sessions with Bennett and the original cast as they developed the characters. Bennett remarks that dancers pay a high price to pursue their passion and that they each had their own interesting personal story to tell. Bennett's most prescient observation was that maybe there's a show worth pursuing.
The fascinating genesis of the show debuting in 1975 ultimately placed the spotlight on the overlooked and underappreciated individuals with a melting pot variety in ethnicity, upbringing and age range.
Besides Hamlisch, two key interviewees are Broadway veteran and Tony Award-winner Donna McKechnie (the original Cassie) and Baayork Lee (the original Connie and the dance captain for the revival.)
Lee is a high energy dynamo. Her advice to the hopeful candidates is to "Eat nails!" which sums up the pressure-packed environment perfectly. You feel like you are at the casting table making the difficult choices of who gets each role.
This wonderfully moving experience tugs at your heart and soul. If you love Broadway musicals and specifically this show, this documentary will blow you away. It is a great chance to relive this magnificent and memorable Tony Award-winning musical.
The Broadway revival lasted from Oct. 5, 2006, through Aug. 17, 2008, and consisted of 759 performances.
There is a lot of trivia dished out that even diehard fans don't know. The biggest surprise is how a suggestion from actress Marsha Mason (star of "The Goodbye Girl" and wife of playwright Neil Simon) caused Bennett to change the ending of the musical.
The superb editing keeps the story of ultimate highs and bitter lows moving along at a rapid clip. All the passion and the ability to risk everything on the stage is included for audience members to marvel at.
The 96-minute running time passes by much too quickly. Instant likability is the best tag for one of the best documentaries of the year.
Opening exclusively at the Tivoli, Rio and AMC Studio 30.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"