By Bill Hirschman
The three major social events of the South Florida theater year are the Carbonell Awards (theater prom as insiders call it); the Silver Palm Awards, and, coming up in two weeks, the madness known as The 24-Hour Theatre Project.
Most theaters’ fund raisers lean toward champagne-fueled black tie galas. The scrappy Naked Stage company stages a coffee-fueled marathon in which about 50 actors, directors and playwrights jam for a mostly sleepless 24-hour period to produce and present from scratch an evening’s worth of skits, playlets, goofs and hoots.
The curtain will rise on the fifth annual edition at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, in the Count de Hoernle Theatre donated by the Caldwell Theatre Company at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton.
The masochistic volunteers gather at 7 p.m. Sunday when playwrights are assigned a theme or title. They write until dawn when the directors and cast begin rehearsals – a process that invariably changes the material throughout the day. At 8 p.m. whatever results goes up before a paying audience. The pieces, usually comic, range from hysterically funny to head-scratchers.
An infectious sense of camaraderie flows off the stage into and through the audience during the madcap evening. A favorite moment comes at the end when everyone connected to the production – a group larger than two children’s theater productions of Oliver! — comes on stage in each other’s arms for a curtain call.
An early and incomplete list of participants this year include:
Actors Irene Adjan, Steve Anthony, Nancy Barnett, Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt, Sally Bondi, Amy Miller Brennan, Cliff Burgess, Oscar Cheda, Ken Clement, Andrea Conte, Dave Corey, Michaela Cronan, Beth Dimon, Nick Duckart, Lela Elam, John Felix, Betsy Graver, Laura Hodos, Julie Kleiner, Margery Lowe, Amy McKenna, Melissa Minyard, Jessica Peterson, Nicholas Richberg, Jackie Rivera, Deborah Sherman, Adam Simpson, Barbara Sloan, Karen Stephens, Shane Tanner, Barry Tarallo and Laura Turnbul .
Directors Barbara Bradshaw, Todd Allen Durkin, Avi Hoffman, Dan Kelley, Michael Leeds, Amy London and Leland Patton.
Playwrights Andie Arthur, Chris Demos-Brown, Tony Finstrom, Michael McKeever, Stuart Meltzer, Juan C. Sanchez and David Michael Sirois.
The entire production is organized by Katherine Amadeo, a co-founder of Naked Stage.
Intermission will feature an auction and appetizers. South Florida Theatre League will host a wine & cheese reception/meet & greet with the directors, playwrights and actors immediately following the performance.
The proceeds benefit a joint production next summer of the vest-pocket Promethean Theatre, a professional troupe which performs on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie, and The Naked Stage, another tiny hand-to-mouth company that produces work on a postage stamp stage at Barry University.
Both companies are noted for a high level of talent and strong, edgy work such as Naked Stage’s scorching 4.48 Psychosis and Promethean’s acclaimed Dumb Show.
Regular tickets are $25; VIP tickets for $50 include reserve seating and a commemorative poster. To purchase tickets, visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe/9222935 or call (866) 811-4111. If you cannot attend, but would like to make a tax deductible donation, send your check payable to The Naked Stage, 5025 Ibis Place, Coconut Creek, FL 33073.