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The Ace Hotel hosted the first-ever 24 Hour Musicals in Los Angeles on Monday night. The performances have been a long-running tradition in New York, in which actors, writers and musicians have a scant 24 hours to put together 15-minute musicals, complete with original songs, stories and choreography.
Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Janina Gavankar and Alicia Witt were just a few of the performers who took a chance and committed themselves to crafting new productions in the time between sunsets.
In a surprise twist, Eisenberg showed off his substantial talents as a music and lyric writer, and he crafted the songs for the night’s best received production, the sex farce Shoshanna and Her Lovers.
“I’ve written musicals for years, but I just don’t show them to anybody,” the Oscar-nominated actor told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s impossible for me to overstate the impact that musical theater has had on my life. I had a lot of trouble in school. The only thing that allowed me to feel like a normal person was to perform in musical theater and it’s my single favorite art form.”
Gavankar performed in Shoshanna and sang its ultra-catchy curtain-raiser “Four Lesbian Sisters.” She spoke out about what draws her back to the theater, despite her successful film and TV career.
“I was a junior in high school and I was doing West Side Story and I was Maria and I was in the middle of a rehearsal and I was reaching out to Tony and my heart broke into a million pieces, not as myself, but as Maria and I had that strange out- of-body experience that so many actors talk about and it is a feeling that is so transcendent that it is a dragon you will chase for the rest of your life once you’ve felt it once.”
Alicia Witt has been in almost a dozen different performances of the 24 Hour shows and she spoke about the tension and fear that always precedes hitting the stage for the first time.
“Every single year when you do these, there’s a moment when you really think it’s not possible. We had dinner tonight and then we all knew it so well before dinner and then we went to run the lines and we were all nonchalant and cocky about it and then we realized we had forgotten the words. We had that moment of panic because these things are so hard to explain.”
Based on the audience’s rapturous applause and cheers of glee, 24 Hour Musicals successfully avoided disaster and even at times became sublime, though the night’s shows will sadly never be seen again.
The evening of theater raised funds for the Dramatist Legal Defense fund, which advocates for freedom of expression and freedom of speech on stages all across America.
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