That’s the idea behind 24 Hour Musicals and the story of the wonderful documentary, One Night Stand.
Directors Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton take you behind the scenes of the creative process – a quickly executed creative process – where they follow four sets of writers, composers, directors and actors who have to come up with four 15-minute musicals by 8pm the next day.
The action – and yes, there is definitely action – starts at 8pm on a Sunday night in New York City where the actors give a quick, usually funny audition. The writers and composers then go backstage, pick their cast and start the fun. You get to watch as they come up with a story, write the music and, for some of them, struggle to finish before their deadline.
At 8 that morning, the actors and directors show up to find out what they’ll be doing for the next 12 hours. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cheyenne Jackson, Richard Kind and Rachel Dratch are just some of the people you’ll recognize who have joined in the craziness.
And yeah, it’s crazy.
Over the next 12 hours, as they struggle to memorize scenes, monologues and songs you can see the frustration starting to set in. “It’s too fast. You can’t be a perfectionist. Which is hard for me,” Cheyenne Jackson tells the camera. In one hilarious moment, Jackson is having a minor freak-out while the words ‘F*CK’ have been scrawled onto a blackboard behind him.
As the actors move through the escalated rehearsal and tech, show time nears and no one is ready but, as they say, the show must go on.
The filmmakers show us good portions of the individual shows and it’s actually pretty amazing what they’ve accomplished. You can tell the performers are having a great time and even though they at times forget their lines and parts of songs, the audience is with them to the end, smiling and clapping.
I was too. And that’s why I immediately watched it again.