Tag Archives: 24 Hour Musicals

24 Hours To Showtime

At Staples, Ari Edelson spent months putting on shows. Whether acting or directing in Players, the 1994 grad learned to do theater the way  professionals do.

Now — as a professional “director/ producer/ multiple hat-wearer” with successes on 2 continents — Ari understands more than ever the importance of organization, planning and preparation.

Except when he’s putting on a musical in just 24 hours.

Ari Edelson, doing an interview for "24-Hour Musicals." (Photo by Kerry Long)

Ari Edelson, doing an interview for “24-Hour Musicals.” (Photo by Kerry Long)

From start — casting, writing songs and dialogue, staging, rehearsing and opening — to finish.

Poof! Like Brigadoon, the moment the curtain falls on a performance that did not exist one day earlier, it’s gone forever.

24-Hour Musicals,” they’re called. Ari has organized them at New York’s Gramercy Theatre since 2008.

Now they’ve become a little less ephemeral. A documentary crew has produced a film about the event. “One Night Stand” — which earned great reviews at festivals around the country — will open nationally in hundreds of theaters on Wednesday, January 30.

Fittingly, it will play for one night only. The closest Connecticut sites are Milford and Danbury.

Ben Pasek (left) and Justin Paul, deep into their "24-Hour Musical." (Photo by Kerry Long)

Ben Pasek (left) and Justin Paul, deep into their “24-Hour Musical.” (Photo by Kerry Long)

This being Westport, there’s more than one connection to the film. Staples 2003 grad Justin Paul and his writing partner, Benj Pasek — who most recently wrote the Broadway smash “A Christmas Story, The Musical” — participated in the 2009 24-Hour Musical, which the filmmakers followed. Ari, Justin and Ben are featured prominently in the movie.

Ari calls each exhausting, exhilarating 24-Hour Musical “an Ironman for the theater.”

The New York Times says the film “borrows from the frenzied, ticking-clock world of reality television.”

Describing the final product, Ari says, “Part of the fun is when people forget their lines. The audience loves seeing blood on the floor.”

There’s an even better line in the movie. Near the beginning, actress Tamara Tunie proclaims, “I’m excited and I’m terrified. It is kind of like sex.”

One Night Stand

24-Hour Musical Madness

It’s the ultimate one-night stand.

Beginning at 9:30 p.m., over 100 cast and crew members have just 24 hours to write, rehearse, tech and perform 4 musicals.  Each is 20 minutes long, and includes 2 songs and a dance number.

Oh, yeah — no one knows beforehand who they’ll work with.  Most have never met each other.

24 Hour Musicals” is masterminded by Ari Edelson.  The 1994 Staples grad — a self-described “theatre director/multiple hat-wearer” — organized the entire event last weekend, for the 2nd year in a row.  There’s a good reason:  The project is a fundraiser for the Orchard Project, an upstate New York incubator for cutting-edge theater (he’s the artistic director).

Ari Edelson giving direction (Photo by Kerry Long - www.kerrylong.com)

Ari Edelson giving direction (Photo by Kerry Long - http://www.kerrylong.com)

This year’s show was held at the Gramercy Theater, a 350-seat venue. Ari also scored the National Arts Club — Samuel Tilden’s Gilded Age mansion — for the overnight writing session, breakfast and after-party.

“That turned a low-cost event into something classy and special,” Ari says.

Special indeed:  Audience members and cast know they’ll never see these shows again.  Like Brigadoon, “24 Hour Musicals” exist for just 1 day.  Unlike Brigadoon, they never reappear.

At 9:30 p.m. the writer-composers (including Westporter Justin Paul) met.  They took actors’ photos into a room, and — like fantasy football —  drafted a team.  By 11, 4 casts were picked.  Writers worked through the night creating musicals from scratch.

At 6 a.m. computers transcribed their creations into scripts and mp3s. At 7 the directors and actors began rehearsals.  A few frantic hours later, the shows opened.  An hour and a half later, they were already closed.

The actors — who this year included Cheyenne Jackson, Rachel Dratch, Roger Bart and Richard Kind — were stunned.  “It’s normally 3 weeks before I memorize a song,” one said.  “Here I had 3 hours.”

Ari calls the exhausting, exhilarating event “an Ironman for the theater.”

And like an Ironman challenge, only the strong survive.

“Part of the fun is when people forget their lines,” Ari says.  “The audience loves seeing blood on the floor.”

The cast and crew of "24 Hour Musical" - Justin Paul is in the lightest shirt, near the left (Photo by Kerry Long - www.kerrylong.com)

Cast of "24 Hour Musical" (Photo by Kerry Long - http://www.kerrylong.com)