It’s a wild concept, the 24 Hour Plays. Going on a wing and a prayer, a gathering of 24 actors, six writers and six directors meet up at 10 p.m., bringing along their own props and secret inner desires, and together they begin the creative process of writing, staging and performing six brand-new short plays. Writers fight for the actors they want, then by midnight, they begin working on their plays, pulling an all nighter. By 8 a.m., the actors, and directors are back on the scene – at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, where the 24 Hour Plays happen every year here in SoCal – and the whole day is devoted to rehearsals.
The curtain goes up at 8 p.m., which is exactly what happened on June 20, as the 24 Hour Plays troupe succeeded for the fourth year in pulling off this annual feat, all done to benefit the Urban Arts Partnership (www.urbanarts.org), the group dedicated to keeping arts education in public schools.
Rosie Perez, who helped start these philanthropic events back in 1995 in New York, led the charge, with the continued support of presenting sponsor Montblanc and the help of a slew of her good friends.
Repeat performers included Jamie Chung, Wilmer Valderrama, Michael Ealy, Seth Green, Tracie Thomas, John Cho, Ramon Rodriguez, Constance Zimmer and Ashley Fink and there were some very famous new faces along for the madness, too.
Singer Gavin Rossdale was sleek and sexy in a Victorian coat in the opening play, “On Broadway,” but still needs a bit of work on his live acting skills, while Alanis Morissette’s stint on the TV show “Weeds” helped her go from singer to successful live actress in a funny play called “Ritual Sacrifice.” Histrionics abounded in “The Nigh-Illest,” as “Parks and Recreation” star Jim O’Heir chewed the scenery while Abbie Cornish, Ashley Madekwe, Andra Day and Alexis Cardenas looked on. Kelly Osbourne, Bryan Greenberg, Jason Ritter, Michelle Trachtenberg, Adam Pally, Yvette Nicole Brown and Retta rounded out the casts.
Once the 24 Hours was up (the show ended at 10 p.m.), the party really started, as everyone headed to the Shore Hotel to celebrate making it all happen with a raucous night of karaoke, dancing and general revelry. Sharon Osbourne joined her daughter Kelly and Morissette on the dance floor, while Rossdale and Valderrama partied the night away with the rest of the happy cast.
And amid all the partying, no one forgot why making the 24 Hour Plays effort was so important, as Montblanc North American President Mike Giannattasio reminded the crowd. “We’ve donated over one million dollars here in L.A. via this event, and have helped 1300 students in 10 LAUSD high schools discover the arts, all since the 24 Hour Plays came to town four years ago. And we know that the arts encourage kids to stay in school.”
Here’s to many more years of the 24 Hour Plays keeping the arts alive in the hearts of children; look for them back at the Broad Stage next June to be a part of it all.
Follow Jenny Peters on Twitter at @jennpeters.