Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pressure-cooker creativity: Trish Dalton and Elisabeth Sperling's ONE NIGHT STAND

A few years back somebody or bodies had the odd idea of bringing together a bunch of writers, directors, choreographers, composers and performers -- and giving them 24 hours to write, compose, produce and perform four very short (maybe 10- or 12-minute) musicals before an audience. Why? Musicals are hard enough to get right when you give the creative process weeks/months/years to percolate. Well, they say that working under a deadline sometimes brings out the best. So why not?

Filmmakers Trish Dalton and Elisabeth Sperling (above, with Sperling on the right) have now made a documentary about this fated day and night which culls those 24 hours down to 74 minutes and shows us the coming together of this batch of creative folk, and then the creative process in action (or not) as the hours pass, and finally not the actual musicals themselves but what I am guessing are only the highlights from them, with the numbers edited together so that we jump from one to another to another to another and keep going around until a song or three are finished.

This is weird, and to use a further metaphor for sex (as does the movie's title), it's a bit like constant coitus interruptus. So for folk who love musicals -- as does TrustMovies, even though he can no longer afford to go see them (who da thunk Broadway would someday be a purely upper-class activity?) -- this is not, I suspect, all that entertaining a thing to watch. There are moments throughout that are pointed and fun, but overall you may keep coming back and back again to your original question: Why?

Still, the performers -- Cheyenne Jackson (above), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tamara Tunie (at right, two photos above), Richard Kind, Nellie McKay, Rachel Dratch, Tracie Thoms, Roger Bart, Mandy Gonzales and more -- are game and have OK-to-good voices, and in some of those final numbers there are moments of lovely harmonies and some nice singing, even if the actual music and lyrics rarely rise above average.  But come on: 24 hours? Gimme a break!

When this film first opened, a short time ago, it was shown in theaters for only, like its title, a one night stand. Now it is back again, this time for a full week's run at Manhattan's Quad Theater. So, if this sounds like your cup of musical theater, take a chance. You can see the schedule of performances, special events and personal appearance, as well as procure tickets, by clicking here.

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