James McAvoy, Michael Kenneth Williams ‘Check Ego at the Door’ for 24 Hour Plays

Flubs, foibles, and charm abounds at 13th annual fundraiser for leading arts org

On Nov. 18, Montblanc’s 24 Hour Plays on Broadway brought together six directors, six playwrights, and 24 actors to perform six short plays written and rehearsed just a day before.

Donning costumes ranging from the banal (Jason Biggs in a man-child’s t-shirt) to the bizarre (Josh Lucas in a banana suit and cape), performers navigated their way through the one-two punch of both “instant” theater and a day without beauty rest.

Why would talent risk their reps on a roomful of strangers? For the Urban Arts’ Partnership, whose “24 Hour Plays” have raised awareness — and funds — for the organization since 2000.

As New York City’s largest arts education non-profit, Urban Arts Partnership boasts a high school graduation of 100%, and a 92% college enrollment rate. They owe their success to classroom arts programs and the thousands of underserved students who’ve been given access to this increasingly rare opportunity.

James McAvoy, sporting a five o’clock shadow, was ready for anything. “You’ve kind of got to check your ego and your pride in at the door. Even if you make a complete fool of yourself, you’re doing it for a very, very good thing.”

Though, with the exception of a few puffy eyes or scraggly beards, neither the cast nor crew seemed any worse for the wear. Actor and board member Michael Kenneth Williams even managed to find time for a siesta. “I slept during rehearsals,” admitted Williams. “The writing was really top-notch, it was seamless. We ran our lines, and just knocked it down.”

Other performers included Sasha Alexander, David Cross, Tim Daly, Natalie Dormer, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Bryan Greenberg, Zachary Levi, Anthony Mackie, Rosie Perez, Jay Pharoah, Maggie Q, Jordin Sparks and Jennifer Westfeldt. Directing the short plays were Ari Edeson, Jessica Bauman, Andy Fickman, Patricia McCregor, Kathy Najimy and Thomas Kail.

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