'SNL' Stars Taran Killam, Cecily Strong, Jay Pharoah & Rachel Dratch Own 24 Hour Plays on Broadway

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Urban Arts Partnership
Urban Arts Partnership at the 15th annual The 24 Hour Plays On Broadway at American Airlines Theatre on Nov. 16, 2015 in New York City.

Twenty-four hours to conceive, write, rehearse and perform six plays might seem like an impossible task, but it helps when you throw multiple Saturday Night Live cast members into the mix. Accustomed to owning material produced on a short timetable and delivering it without a hitch, veterans and current players of the NBC institution brought an edge when it came to Urban Arts Partnership's annual 24 Hour Plays on Broadway event/fundraiser last night (Nov. 17).

The evening raised money for UAP's efforts to bring the arts to underserved public school kids, and for the 15th year, various writers, directors and actors came together to create six original plays from scratch within a 24-hour time frame. After being work-shopped throughout Sunday night, the plays made their Monday night debut to a packed house at the American Airlines Theater. 

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To that end, plenty of pros from the film and TV worlds hit Broadway to make memorable turns in comedic and/or dramatic roles: Molly Ringwald, Rosie Perez, Phylicia Rashad, Edie Falco, Ari Graynor and David Cross (who penned his own surreal, sly one-act) all made memorable turns. Still, it was the SNL folk who reliably delivered throughout.

The evening opened with "Waiting for Hello," a briskly paced play where a spoiled, intellectually deficient former Nickelodeon child star (Taran Killam) irks the learned, serious actor (John Krasinski) he's working with on Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Killam opened the play belting Adele's "Hello," mangling it just enough to be funny while still hitting a few of the notes. With Killam playing the smarmy bro who succeeds without trying and Krasinski in full "Am I the only one who gets it?" mode, it was an expertly assembled theatrical quickie. With plenty of jokes about showbiz, pop culture and the primacy of celebrity in the acting world, this one hit all the right notes.

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Another play, "Obligation Friend," brought Cecily Strong and Rachel Dratch together alongside Jason Biggs and The Dan Band's Dan Finnerty. Even though Strong and Dratch's SNL tenures didn't overlap, they were clearly on the exact same wavelength, alternately dialing up and down their respective crazy to let the other one get the laughs in a play about those friends you only hang with because you've known them forever.

The evening was punctuated with performances of Bruno Mars and Walk the Moon songs by the Filharmonic -- the Filipino a cappella sextet who appeared on The Sing-Off and Pitch Perfect 2 -- performing during set changes to huge applause. 

The Filharmonic made an appearance in the final play to join Phylicia Rashad (as God) and Jay Pharoah (as Jesus) in a performance of The Lion King's "Circle of Life." That turned into a sing-along with the casts of all six plays, which then spilled over into the audience, bringing the night to a triumphant, sloppily Disney-fied close. 


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