Monday, June 14, 2010

Musical Mondays: A Chorus Line

Careful, this review could potentially put songs in your head that won't go away no matter how hard you try.  At least that's often the case for me when I watch A Chorus Line.  Filmed in 1985, based on a stage play from 10 years earlier, and starring Michael Douglas as the only still recognizable actor, it's still got some of the best songs from musicals.  It ran continuously on Broadway for 15 years and is currently the fourth longest running show in history (behind Phantom, Cats, and Les Mis).  For such a simple show it must be one of the most profitable.  There are no superstars; everyone in the show is actually auditioning to part of the chorus for a pretend Broadway show, so being a nobody is actually a requirement.   Michael Douglas plays the choreographer/director trying to cast the chorus of his show.  He's using non-traditional auditioning techniques by asking the final 16 actors to actually talk about themselves in addition to singing and dancing.  We learn little bits of their stories about how they got into dancing ("I can do that", "At the Ballet" and "Nothing").  The biggest difference between the stage play and the movie is the love story in the movie between Douglas and one of the actresses, Cassie, who used to date Douglas.  One of the most famous songs from the show is "What I Did For Love", which in the stage version is sung by the entire cast about what they've given up for their love of dance and the need to be a dancer.  In the movie, Cassie sings it about how her career changed because she fell in love with Douglas.  One other smaller difference that I much prefer in the film is the song Cassie sings "Let Me Dance For You" rather than "The Music and the Mirror".  It's more exciting and explains her character better than just the love of dance.  However, the big things that make this movie incredibly dated even though the themes are relate-able at any time is the synthesized music background, and the unbelievably bad hair extensions they make Cassie use in the flashbacks to her life with Douglas.  Both make it seem out of place.  However, it's still one of the best musicals.  "One" is the song that gets stuck in my head.  "One.  Singular sensation, every little step she takes.   One.  Thrilling combination, every move that she makes.  One smile and suddenly nobody else will do."  It runs through my head.  That scene at the end where they fill the stage with all the other dancers who audition for the chorus all in matching outfits is the one over the top moment that gives you chills when it's done right.  On stage it doesn't work as well, but on film it's kind of magical.


陳逸群 said...


Cat said...

I can't believe I've never seen the Chorus Line movie! Did you see "Every Little Step" (or something like that), a documentary about the B'way revival about Chorus Line? If not, you really should. It's both deeply entertaining and kinda harrowing (contemporary showbiz is a hugely competitive world!).