Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Night Stand

Actors performing a musical in One Night Stand
When I was an undergrad at the University of Michigan, I was also in the Residential College (a smaller college within the main one), and each year they would put on "Kamikaze," in which writers, actors, and stagehands would come together and write and perform a play. The catch was that they had only twenty-four hours - one full day - to write this play and then have the actors learn their lines. The play always came together beautifully, though, and this is the idea behind the movie One Night Stand; the difference being that the team must compose four fifteen-minute musicals, with at least two songs and a dance number in each. Needless to say, this is a daunting task, but with a team of Broadway, TV, and movie pros working together, it can definitely be done.

The film starts out in the wee hours of the night and early morning, when the composers and writers break out into teams and write four musicals. They have Polaroids of the actors, who will be cast later, and they have to decide on the theme of their musical and then write it within the next few hours. Once the musicals are written, then the actors have to learn their lines and songs, and the musicals will be performed the next night - twenty-four hours after the crew started writing them.


There are a ton of recognizable actors participating in the musicals, including Cheyenne Jackson and Rachel Dratch, from 30 Rock; Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family; Richard Kind from Curb Your Enthusiasm; and Tracie Thoms from Rent and Cold Case, among others. "24-Hour Musicals" was started in 2008, and these performances were performed live on April 13, 2009. The proceeds made from the musicals went to The Exchange, a nonprofit that is very involved in the development of new plays and musicals. When it came time to perform the musicals, it mostly went off without a hitch, except for a few brief moments; and in this case, their fellow actors were ready with scripts (or in Ferguson's case, his lines written on his arm!) to remind an actor of his/her lines.

Maybe see this film. It is, of course, amazing that these talented actors, writers, and composers could whip up four new fifteen-minute musicals within the time allotted. However, I found the filming of the actual process to be quite dry; for the most part, it was just the camera recording what was going on, rather than the people involved talking to the camera. A few bright spots were when the actors were auditioning, and we get to see the range that each actor has for singing and comedy; also when the participants were talking to the camera - the few instances that this happened - about their hopes and fears for the night. During the last twenty minutes or so of the movie, we get to see the musicals being performed, and that is the best part of the film - to see how everyone's hard work has translated to the stage, and the audience's reactions to the musicals.

This film doesn't yet have a release date but has been working the festival circuit - it was shown in Boston, Miami, and Chicago this year, and Austin and Nashville last year, among other cities - and so I would anticipate that it will have a wide release sometime later this year. There's also no rating for it yet - but I'm thinking it will be rated R because of some language - and the runtime is 74 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.

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