…and then let’s drop dead from exhaustion!
You probably need to be a serious New York theater geek to get behind this one.
The film: “One Night Stand: Creating a Play in a Day,” a 75-minute documentary chronicling the annual 24 Hour Musicals in NYC.
The filmmakers: Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton of Overnight Musicals who have documented the 24 Hour Musicals since the program’s inception in 2008. The film is actually showing the 2009 lineup.
The stars: Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Modern Family,” Cheyenne Jackson (“Xanadu”), Rachel Dratch (“Saturday Night Live,” ) Richard Kind (“The Producers,” “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”), Roger Bart (“Young Frankenstein,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”) and a whole bunch of New York stage actors: Mandy Gonzalez, Capathia Jenkins, Michael Longoria, Theresa McCarthy, Nellie McKay, Marnie Schulenburg, Scarlet Strallen, Tracie Thoms, Tamara Tunie and Alicia Witt.
The date: Wednesday, January 30 at 450 movie theaters throughout the nation including seven in the Los Angeles area. One night only.
The audience: See “Theater geeks, New York” above.
Naw, in fairness, if you’re not going to see an actual live show, it’s off and on amusing to see a group of pretty decent actors, directors and composers busting their collective keysters so that one particular New York audience will have a live show to view. Even if the content is, er, not the most sophisticated and the execution decidedly seat-of-pants.
That’s the beauty of it, of course. Once they’ve been inspired by an actor’s prop to use for the germ of an idea, teams of playwrights and composers get about six hours to build four 15 minute musicals, complete with songs basically overnight. Then once the creative team has expired out of stress, the actors come in and have the day to learn and mount the “finished” product. The whole thing is built, rehearsed and performed in 24 hours.
Why would anybody put oneself through such madness? Well, if the 24 Hour Plays folks are to be believed:
When a team of actors, writers, directors and producers are given just 24 hours to create, rehearse and tech six short original plays, climaxing in an off-book performance to a live theatre audience, the experience is unbelievably stimulating.
Time and time again, we find that going through the process gives rise to an enormous feeling of accomplishment, stronger creative relationships, and a renewed sense of self-confidence. Writers overcome writers’ block, actors overcome stage fright, directors gain the confidence to take control of a rehearsal room quickly and assertively, and producers find the ability to hold their nerve in the shortest tech and rehearsal process known to man.”
Now, any journalistic writers out there – or perhaps deadline crammers – know that it’s possible to vomit out some decent product in a 24 hour period. Building an actual performable musical, even if you’ve done this before, looks nasty. Hats off certainly to the 2009 teams that birthed “Islands” about a clothing scheme in Staten Island, “Rachel Said Sorry” (a disruptive wedding guest), “Multiphobia” (based on a pop-up phobia book) and “Dr. Williams” (wherein three doctors, all with the same name, obsess over a patient on their operating table).
With the exception of Dratch who despite her SNL pedigree and improve chops, perpetually looks like a safe is about to be dropped on her head, most of the actors look like they’re having a blast and don’t even mind when things get a little rough. The composers and librettists, facing a really severe clock, also seem perpetually miserable.
I’d stump for a West Coast version of the 24 Hour Musicals (we’ve had the 24 Hour Plays out here), but I’m not sure whether it would take.
Anyway, have a lookout for “One Night Stand” playing – frenetically – at a theater near you, for one night only, Wednesday.