No, the title is not the answer to some convoluted Crazy Days and Nights blind item.
Last night I was invited by my pal John to cover a reception and screening of One Night Stand at NewFest: The 23rd Annual New York LGBT Film Festival. I support NewFest (which has supported me!) so I was definitely considering going. But when I was told one of the film's stars, Cheyenne Jackson (whose underpants photos spiked my traffic back in the day), would be in attendance and would be available for press, I knew that a One Night Stand with Cheyenne Jackson even without an interview was a big yes—NSA!
I showed up to SVA1 in Chelsea just after the reception began and was able to meet the film's directors, Elisabeth Sperling and Trish Dalton, and several people who appeared in this documentary that chronicles the making of four 15-minute original musicals, start to finish to showtime, in a 24-hour period.
The talent involved was "out"standing (even if the film itself is not explicitly gay in any way)—along with Jackson, the musicals had enlisted the (sometimes reluctant) participation of actors, composers, playwrights and directors including Rachel Dratch, Alicia Witt, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Richard Kind, Mandy Gonzalez, Tracie Thoms, Nellie McKay, Michael Longoria, Benj Pasek (pictured with me) & Justin Paul, Roger Bart, Rinne Groff, Gina Gionfriddo, Lance Horne, Gabriel Kahane, Tamara Tunie, Scarlett Strallen, Theresa McCarthy, Capathia Jenkins, Marnie Schulenburg, Jonathan Marc, Robin Goldwasser, Ted Sperling, Trip Cullman, Maria Mileaf, Sam Gold and probably others.
The fun part was that none of the people in the plays had yet seen the documentary about their harrowing/edifying experience, and in fact a number of them expressed to me that while they'd signed releases they'd been rather hazy that an actual documentary was being produced. I bet quite a few would have thought twice about participating considering how poorly they might have come off on film. (No one came off poorly.)
24-Hour Musicals is part of The Exchange, which supports new plays, so it's a charitable endeavor. But it is also like a creativity trial-by-fire, forcing people who in most cases have never met to come up with something kinda good superfast. I can see why the filmmakers thought it should be captured.
Jackson was actually inside the theater watching his other NewFest film The Green (one friend raved that it's "outstanding" while another found it melodramatic but filled with good performances), but came out about an hour in to briefly do photos with the directors. We were told he'd do some press at the afterparty, which sounded like a crock to me. (Not that we were being lied to, but that he'd actually show up to a 10PM-12AM afterparty and want to speak with some gay blogs.) In person, he's even more handsome and striking and tall. Somehow, his partner is even taller. Seeing the couple together definitely encourages one to daydream.
Finally, after enduring a line filled with rabid friends and family who looked like they might cut a bitch at any moment, we were let in and I sat one row from the front with my newly acquired blogger buddy Adam from Adaumbelle's Quest. We'd heard there would be a Q&A after and I wanted to get unobstructed Jackson action.
I found the movie to be 80 minutes of fun and quite entertaining and would recommend it. It wasn't as hilarious as I expected considering the crazy circumstances. Instead, it was more inspiring to see the performers and composers brainstorming (and brainfarting) on their way to creating pieces that would have something to say and be entertaining.
Definitely the highlight of the writing side is the terse husband/wife-style bristling between Pasek and a physically ill Paul, a team one gathers probably collaborates far less rancorously when not forced to produce results overnight. (Both are ridiculously adorable, which doesn't hurt. I assume both know it, but if not, at least now they will understand the sidelong glances they receive when going about their business.)
But despite some fun mugging from castmates Jackson, Bart and Ferguson and hysterical asides from Kind, the highlight of the acting portion is Dratch, whose bewildered and then terrified expressions—"Can I drop out?" she meekly half-jokes at one point after having burst into fear-tears—give the movie a reason to exist above and beyond simply preserving for the ages a rather cool phenomenon, which I suppose was reason enough in and of itself.
As for the finished musicals, you don't get to see them in their entirety, but I found Jackson's song "Don't Try This At Home" and an inspired piece marrying Staten Island and a Ponzi scheme especially intriguing, things I would hope might see the light of day in finished works.
After the movie came the Q&A, moderated by NewFest Director of Programming Bryce J. Renninger and his nipples (it was a scorching-hot night, so everyone not in a movie was in a T-shirt). The talkback brought out some side-splitters from McKay (who says she learned from the experience that every theatrical event should involve improv, even if you're doing Brecht!) and Kind (see my videos) and a declaration by Jackson that he'd never do it again because he didn't love seeing himself "floundering."
As the cast exited the stage, I wrangled Jackson for a pic-with that turned out not half bad considering just over half of his head made the cut. This was totally my fault for having left my camera zoomed in from the Q&A and not having properly instructed my volunteer Matthew Brady, whose own pic-with came out spectacular. Jackson has a nice back, which is always a fringe benefit of doing the pic-with, the back grope. Not a grope, really; I never do more than a respectful (at times reverent) laying on of the hands because the last thing I need is Cheyenne Jackson suing me for sexual assault. I'd lose that case based on circumstantial evidence alone. (Go ahead and file, CJ—the only restraining order I respect is when I'm commanded to submit to handcuffs.)
Adam turned out to be a longtime fan of Jackson's—he's met and been covering (shadowing?) him for 10 years!—so I relied on him to ask about any interview time at the afterparty. Jackson said he'd for sure see us there, but he does make his living pretending and I still couldn't envision him going.
The party was upstairs at the unimaginatively titled Chelsea Art Museum. It was a really amazing space for it (ran into Going Down in La La Land director Casper Andreas) and filled with not only One Night Stand participants but also the principals behind the fest's buzzed-about centerpiece, Weekend. Actually, it turned out to be a party for that movie with One Night Stand along for the ride, still more of a reason why Jackson—whom we'd seen running for a cab with his beau, a cab that sped off in the opposite direction of the party—might not show up.
Well, he didn't show. But I of course wasn't surprised and I didn't blame him—he was supernice in person and did his duty by attending back-to-back film premieres and back-to-back Q&As. Baby got back-to-back. I'm sure he and his partner escaped to make angry, aggressive love. Or maybe just to eat a late dinner and finally get around to watching that month-old Netflix copy of Life As We Know It.
Richard Kind was on hand, but having shown up at the end of the screening (he'd been seeing Smurfs with his children) he wouldn't do any press.
Leaving with Adam, we spotted an obscenely hot guy in a sideless shirt and shorts walking his dog only to discover it was original Jersey Boys star Daniel Reichard (pictured from his '09 Broadway Bares stint). He's so in love with his year-old French bulldog he joked about eating a thigh, which blew me away because I'm always teasing José by threatening to eat my Shih Tzus they're so yummy.
It was a delicious end to a satisfying night.