The Next Step

on June 13, 1997 by Lael Loewenstein
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   In this uneven tribute to Broadway dancers, a thirtysomething chorus dancer named Nick (Rich Negron) finds himself looking for work after his long-running show is cancelled. Auditioning for a musical he had done years before, Nick finds to his horror that he has gotten too old for his career when he's passed over in favor of several idealistic young novices.
   Alhough Donald Byrd's choreography is dynamic and Aaron Reed's story rich with possibility, regrettably "The Next Step" never leaps above "All That Jazz"/"Chorus Line" cliches. A significant problem is the acting. As Nick, Broadway veteran Negron dances with grace and passion, but his dialogue readings could have used similar inspiration. Complicating matters, Nick is a fundamentally unlikable character: He two-times his live-in girlfriend, callously mistreats a restaurant co-worker and selfishly assumes he can coast by on his charm.
   Naturally, events come to a head and Nick is made to suffer (if all in one afternoon) for the girlfriend, the restaurant and his professional arrogance, a collusion of events that feels contrived. But Nick's receiving his comeuppance has little dramatic weight because by this point, late in the film's 96 minutes, you don't much care whether he redeems himself or not. The rest of the acting is likewise distracting and barely credible, save Kristin Moreu as Nick's girlfriend and Taylor Nichols ("Barcelona") as a potential suitor. Moreu and Nichols are two actors you'd like to see more of, but they need better material--including better dialogue. In one awful moment, a friend of Nick's asks him to define his goals. "I want to dance--forever," he responds. Even "Flashdance" moved you more.    Starring Rich Negron, Kristin Moreu, Denise Faye, Donald Byrd and Taylor Nichols. Directed by Christian Faber. Written by Aaron Reed. Produced by Aaron Reed and Hank Blumenthal. Phaedra. Drama. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 96 min.
Tags: Rich Negron, Kristin Moreu, Denise Faye, Donald Byrd, Taylor Nichols. Directed by Christian Faber. Written by Aaron Reed. Produced by Aaron Reed and Hank Blumenthal. Phaedra. Drama
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