Directed by Nicholas Hynter, whose theatrical background provided a magnificent debut with The Madness of King George
, Center Stage
is a drama set in the hugely competitive and pressured world of a New York Ballet company. By no means breaking any new ground, Hynter's movie dusts down the all-too-familiar staples of the likes of Fame
and A Chorus Line
and gives them a glamorous, energetic update. Fans of those classic "Backstage" movies can expect, and duly receive, all the usual clichés: the domineering stage mother; the dancer who risks health for success; the arrogant male lead dancer; the struggling newcomer; the imperious teacher; even the last-minute injury. Yet, like a guilty pleasure, it's hard not to enjoy Hynter's realistic and reverential glimpse of this ruthless, demanding world, never succumbing to overt soapy theatrics and filled with impressive dance sequences. While not as exuberant as Fame
, it's still a fun, if depthless, look at the world of Ballet.
On The DVD: Hynter's commentary, while not brimming with technical detail or thrilling anecdote, allows him to expound on this particularly demanding profession, as well as his personal recollections of theatrical life. While the two deleted scenes are forgettable, Dance fans will enjoy the five extended performance sequences, while a making-of featurette and Mandy Moore video round off a slight package. --Danny Graydon
Jonathan Reeves (Peter Gallagher) is the artistic director of the American Ballet Company and has a small collection of young students under his wing who face a long struggle for success. As well as growing up and facing adulthood and the onset of relationships, the main problem facing Reeves is what this group can achieve on the stage and whether they can deliver the goods.