The focus of Allison Burnett's choppy script is not the inspirational tale of how students turn self-doubt into self-expression, but the cautionary one of how vulnerable performers get suckered by casting couch and predatory producers.
So little time is devoted to developing characters that it's hard to share their hopes and fears. They include Marco (Asher Book), the happy-go-lucky singer from Queens, Jenny (Kay Panabaker), the timid actress from Long Island, and Denise (Naturi Naughton), the classical pianist who longs to be a pop singer. Laidback Book and standout Naughton almost certainly will be seen and heard from again.
The focus of director Kevin Tancharoen is on performances, not performers. A dancer/choreographer/director who has worked with Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls, Tancharoen exhibits little interest in his characters' inner lives or milieu. (Mostly shot in Los Angeles, the film lacks a New York flavor and rhythm.)
Of the seven intersecting storylines, only one, that of Malik (Collins Pennie), an angry rapper/actor, shows him retooling the emotional baggage weighing him down into wings that help him fly.
From auditions, where only one in 500 applicants is admitted to the freshman class through graduation, the story hopscotches among classrooms anchored by Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, and Bebe Neuwirth. Debbie Allen, a dance instructor in the original, has been promoted to principal.
Contact movie critic Carrie Rickey at 215-854-5402 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog, "Flickgrrl," at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/flickgrrl/