“One Night Stand: Creating a Broadway Musical in a Day,” a film directed by Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton, documents theater folk as they wrote, cast, composed, rehearsed and performed four short musicals in a 24-hour period. At the end of that time, the musicals opened, and closed, in one night, in a charity event for an audience of 300 people at New York’s Gramercy Theater.
For musical-theater nerds, the movie is heaven! You see flop sweat, panic, inspiration and exhilaration as these crazy talented artists beat the clock and pulled off four entertaining and gifted musicals.
Just like the musical production, there’s only one chance to see this on a stage: It will screen for one night only on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m., in 450 movie theaters across the country. In Manhattan, it will be shown at the legendary Ziegfeld, the most beautiful movie theater in New York. (For theater locations and other information check out www.FathomEvents.com.)
At a screening of “One Night Stand” last week in the theater district, Sperling said the panic and anxiety the film documented is real. “Everybody has the time when they’re going to throw up. As a producer, my time comes around about 4 or 5 a.m. when the scripts are not done,” she said. “The actors want to thrown up at a totally different time of day. But everybody wants to throw up.”
Richard Kind (“Argo,” “Spin City,” “Mad About You”), who’s a stand out in the film, said the anxiety also made him want to hurl. “It is a daunting task to learn this and to do this and know that you’re doing it in front of an audience. So from the moment that you said ‘Yes,’ you’re going to throw up because you’re spending the day scared sh*tless.”
Kind said he was so focused on learning his song in such a short period of time he was oblivious to everything else. “I’m stupid because I didn’t know we were being filmed. I certainly didn’t know we were being filmed for a documentary.” He said he was thinking, “Get out of here! I have to learn a song.”
Kind, who plays a Staten Island crook involved in a ponzi scheme, said his song was beautiful but long and difficult. “It was awful. And usually I take a month to learn a song. It has to be in my bones. It has to come out like pea soup out of Linda Blair’s mouth and here it doesn’t. You are thinking about it.”
The four teams of composers, writers, directors and actors used props for inspiration. A zoot suit Kind wore in a children’s show in the 1970’s inspired the musical “Islands,” and a phobia pop-up book is the premise for “Multiphobia.” A 1980’s prom dress is the start off point for a musical about brothers who are surgeons in “Dr. Williams.” Rachel Dratch gets to show of her comedic timing if not her singing in “Rachel Said Sorry.”
Other actors featured in the musicals include Michael Longoria (“Jersey Boys”), Nellie McKay (“Rumor Has it”), Tamara Tunie (“Law and Order SVU,” “Flight”), Scarlet Strallen (“Mary Poppins”), Roger Bart (“Revenge,” “Desperate Housewives,” “The Producers”), Tracie Thoms (“Cold Case,” “Rent”), Alicia Witt (“Two Weeks Notice,” “Urban Legend”), Cheyenne Jackson (“30 Rock”) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family,” which just received a Screen Actors Guild Award for best comedy ensemble.
After the screening, Kind, who opens in a Broadway revival of Clifford Odets’ drama “The Big Knife” in April, told me the scariest part of the process.
“Usually learning the script is not that tough. Learning the song is very difficult. There are so many components you have to learn other than the lyrics. You have to make decisions on where do you hold notes and on what. It’s just tough. And when it’s unfamiliar you have to learn the melody.
“Now if everybody could write a real melodic melody,” he said, and then hummed a few lines from the song, which he said was melodic, but “as the song goes on these are very sophisticated songwriters who are writing maybe counterpoint. It’s not just a Cole Porter song that you’ve learned over the years. It’s something you heard that morning and has to come out that night.”
Kind added, “Nobody knows how good they’re going to be or how bad they’re going to do.” So would he go through it again? Without a pause, he replied, “In a heartbeat.”
Cheyenne Jackson talks making a musical in 24 hours: