Actress and writer Paula Pell suffers through a never-ending succession of takes at the behest of her nit-picky producers in a clip from the upcoming Documentary Now! episode “Original Cast Album: Co-op,” which airs February 27th on IFC.
“Co-op” is a parody of D.A. Pennebaker’s 1970 documentary, Original Cast Album: Company, which chronicled the overnight recording of the cast album for Stephen Sondheim’s hit show, Company. Speaking with Rolling Stone, Pell explained that her character in the faux-show plays a woman who’s having an affair with a married man in her apartment building, and her big solo number, “I Gotta Go,” is a “Ladies Who Lunch”-style realization that she has to “go find something fulfilling that doesn’t involve sneaking out with my underpants in a CVS bag.”
In the “Co-op” clip, Pell belts “I Gotta Go” over and over into the early hours of the morning while her three producers – played with perfect self-import by John Mulaney, Taran Killam and James Urbaniak – fuss over every take. After the 11th take, Pell’s character rages, “Earlier, many times I mentioned, I had an eye doctor appointment to get my eyes scraped. I have already taken the medication and it’s ripping through my system, so we need to be brisk with this!”
A lifelong musical theater nerd, as well as a massive Sondheim fan, Pell said making the “Co-op” episode was like doing a repertory show. “We’d work so hard during the day and then go eat and drink at night and laugh and discuss everything and anything,” she said. “I think by the end we were convinced it was a real show and after we finished and were sent on our way there were a lot of feelings. We texted each other for days and bemoaned that we weren’t heading to Seattle next. That’s what you get when you let theatre nerds get a taste of it again.”
The “Co-op” episode of Documentary Now! will also co-star Alex Brightman, Richard Kind and Renee Elise Goldsberry.