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1/30/13

Don't We All Want to Participate in a One Night Stand!

Like anyone, I enjoy me a hot mess. I mean, what's not to like? Hot plus mess equals entertainment gold. It's very simple math, to be honest.

Enter "One Night Stand," a documentary opening in theaters today only featuring footage and commentary of the second annual "24 Hour Musicals" (which was held back in 2009). The event itself is too polished to fall into that beloved "Hot Damn Mess" superlative, but there-in lies the genius of taking us behind-the-scenes with an honest, painstakingly real documentary...it's all there and we laugh and love along with this bizarre, masochistic yet challenging, fun and ultimately, worthwhile process.

Four directors, composing teams and casts of actors LITERALLY create a 15-minute musical in 24 hours, just as the event title says. Yeah, there is none of this, "let's shelf this for a little while and come back to it" or, "how about another workshop or out-of-town tryout?" bullshit. It's full-on, balls-to-the-walls musical-making on amphetamines as the creative teams write the book, lyrics and compose the orchestrations for their musical overnight - no joke, most of those involved hardly got any sleep - only for the shows to be rehearsed and minutely adjusted the following day for a performance later that evening.

As a longtime reality competition fan in the "Project Runway" and "Top Design" molds, this film hit all my buttons and pretty much affirmed that, whether you are a member of the cast or the creative in the theater community, you are just awesome just by virtue of association. Unlike the fame whores and obnoxious personalities populating most programs (you know a few, I'm sure), no one plays to the cameras here. You would think a few theater-ey types would be on the more ostentatious side, but not even close - everyone is competent, respectful and fun-loving. Directors Elizabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton nailed a lot of things, from putting forth a well-edited, under 90-minute final cut to covering all the bases sufficiently, but extra kudos to them for not portraying the people involved as something they are not.

And can I just say, as far as seeing everyone get a little nervous as curtain time approaches, I found it kind of a relief. It's just reassuring that these cast/creative teams are, in fact, human beings and not robots programmed for theater perfection. In a few words...Cheyenne Jackson (looking gorgeous as usual) is actually uneasy about something. And Jesse Tyler Ferguson, somewhat hilariously, trotted out the script on stage when he couldn't remember a line. We have this on camera; I saw it...it is real.

In the end, everyone wins though. Some of these shows, even with just a glimpse at it, look better then their full-blown, workshopped, six years-in-the-making counterparts. I'm not going to try and explain that (nor is it an assertion that carries a lot weight). It's just cool watching talented people work outside their comfort zones on the fly and see what they come up with. Plus, anytime I see some of our theater folk on the small or big screen, I turn into a proud sibling at graduation. It was great seeing the likes of Jackson, Ferguson, Capathia Jenkins, Mandy Gonzalez, Tracie Thoms, Trip Cullman and Sam Gold participate, amongst others. I mean, is it ever not?

I don't really have a favorite part per say, but there was a moment when I realized that the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the composers behind Dogfight and A Christmas Story, had me rolling over in laughter. It's early in the morning, some time in-between 2:00 and 6:00am, and these two had the biggest passive-aggressive bitchfest ever. The fact that they weren't even looking for trouble and simply were carrying on with their work only made it sweeter. In fact, One Night Stand is a nice watch because of and simply for that - the work itself. Watching the creative process, from conception to curtain, without the months and years wait time, of a production that we typically only see the end result of. Theater nerdery at its finest.

Advanced Screening Pass provided by PR Team

Photo Credit: "One Night Stand" via RiverRunFilm.com

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