A Chorus Line

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Richard Attenborough

REVIEWED: 12-01-97

Michael Douglas, Terence Mann, Audrey Landers, Alyson Reed, Nicole Fosse, Janet Jones

Sometimes the hits of Broadway should stay right where they are -- onstage. In making what used to be a time-honored tradition of stage-to-screen leaps, A Chorus Line trips and falls on its face in a woefully misguided adaptation. The thing is, the film isn't unwatchable, it's just flat. The story of a group of wannabe Broadway dancers trying their luck before a noted director (Michael Douglas) sets the scene for an ensemble cast tour de force with its audition-cum-confession; even when individual dancers command attention, the concept doesn't quite jell. (Line dancer Michelle Johnston would go on to reprise a similar character as choreographer in Showgirls.) A few of the well-choreographed numbers work -- Audrey Landers' sassy strut to "Dance: Ten, Looks: Three," and a tune written for the film, "Surprise, Surprise" -- but both the showstopping "What I Did for Love" and "One Singular Sensation" are tepid. A Chorus Line's most tender moment is the heartachingly lovely "At the Ballet," and you almost think it will be redeemed, but no. Maybe it's just too many personalities being projected willy-nilly in an attempt to create a well-rounded, multiethnic cast. Maybe it's too many of Michael Douglas' constipated expressions when a former flame (Alyson Reed) comes prancing into the audition demanding a shot at the spotlight. Somehow, A Chorus Line just never reaches the high-kick heights that it should.

--Margaret Moser

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