Review by Jonathan Padget
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/15/2011, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $12 at GWU Documentary Center
OH, THE THINGS we’ll do to have a few laughs and raise a few bucks for charity. It’s no longer enough to have some cocktails, hear some jokes, enjoy a few songs. No, as chronicled in the documentary One Night Stand, we must exhaust as many creative types as possible in order to have a few fleeting moments of whimsy.
I mean, really. A 24-hour musical? It can be done, sure. But a lot of people are going to get Really Stressed Out along the way. Filmmakers Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton followed a 2009 project in New York that gathered Broadway and Hollywood talent — actors such as Rachel Dratch, Cheyenne Jackson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and countless writers, composers, directors, choreographers, musicians and others — and subjected them to a grueling task: Get together on Sunday night; meet, greet and group; knock out scripts and scores for four 15-minute musicals by 6 a.m.; and be ready for an adoring public by 8 p.m. Monday.
What the audience sees by that time is moderately entertaining. Writers have come up with some nice zingers, and composers and lyricists have managed some engaging tunes, and gosh, isn’t it just hysterical how that adorable redhead from Modern Family forgot his lines and made hunky Cheyenne Jackson improvise for a moment?
Less entertaining is what goes on behind the scenes. Funny lady (but rudimentary singer) Rachel Dratch feels self-conscious around big-voiced Broadway divas. Got it. Writers get anxious on tight deadlines. Got it. Only the filmmakers are going to keep giving it to you, ’cause that’s all they got.
The 80 minutes of One Night Stand, like the 24-hour musicals themselves, isn’t a waste, but with all the talent reflected in the lens and on the stage, it would be nice to have a result that makes a better lasting impression.