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Hexagon - ARCHIVE
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March 2 - 24, 2007
Strike While the Irony’s Hot
Reviewed by William Bryan

Running time 2:15 - one intermission
A large and enthusiastic musical review and political satire for a worthy charity

For over 50 years the Hexagon membership, consisting of an all volunteer cast, crew, orchestra, front of house, writers, and production team, have put on an original satirical revue with all proceeds going to a charity. They have raised more than three million dollars over the years. 2007’s production finds them returning once more to the Duke Ellington School of the Fine Arts. Their charity this time around is the very worthy Ronald McDonald House, which supports families in need, most famously by providing a home away from home for families of seriously ill children. Running Wednesday through Sunday during the first four weeks of March, this year’s show is bright, bold, energetic, sometimes hard to hear, occasionally in bad taste, and often very, very funny. With “guest” news personalities stepping in each night to read four “Hexagon Updates” (a complete rip-off - though they aren’t the first - of Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment) and numerous original musical numbers, this is a fun evening for a great cause.

Storyline:  A musical revue, circa the old big Vaudeville productions, finds a large cast, orchestra and writing team coming together for their annual review of all things political and newsworthy.

Billing themselves as “Washington’s only original political satirical musical comedy revue,” the players of the Hexagon company have an obvious wide range of experience and ages among them. What some lack in talent, none lack in enthusiasm. Beginning with a large opening number and a circus type theme, the show moves rapidly through the evening, only occasionally having a cringe worthy moment. A great team of writers have prepared material that is often beyond the performers’ ability to pull off, but funny nonetheless. Extravagant dance numbers are included, from a chorus line of women in Radio City Music Hall tradition, to a chorus line of men all wearing a modest (thank God) version of Bortat’s swimming suit. The choreography is often more impressive than the number in which it takes place.

There are some memorable sketches and songs throughout the evening. From a group of male Potomac River trout who find themselves able to reproduce without women, to a gathering of Tony Blair and President Bush on Dr. Phil‘s show, “Whose Bomb is Bigger?” the gags are current, relevant and usually humorous. Perhaps in bad taste is an entire musical number based around George Allen’s racial epithet that cost him the election. If the number had featured other racial slurs than the one used by Mr. Allen, it is doubtful that it would have even been allowed in the show, yet to those it demeans, it is probably as offensive as any other derogatory comment. Also the show is often plagued by poor sound such that the audience in the back of the Duke Ellington theater could not hear over the orchestra.

Colorful sets and a large variety of costumes enhance the show, from tuxedos and evening gowns to fish costumes and clown garb. The show features 33 numbers, from those that bemoan the “Yuppification” of Friendship Heights in four part harmony to the closeted gays in the Republican party in “A.C. in D.C.” Showing just how current the material is, the revue even includes an entire song dedicated to our recent astronaut and her cross country diaper wearing drive. This is an entertaining show that is a good value for the dollar which is even better given the charitable donation of the production.

Artistic director Ian Grossman. Technical director Peter Nerenstonei. Music director Mark V. Deal. Choreography by Pauline Grossman. Design: Jared Davis (set) Ayun Fedorcha (lights) Kathleen Tucker (properties) Chris Kagy (sound) Cathy Dunn (makeup) Eleanor Dicks (costumes). Cast: John Allnut, Brent Almond, Abby Aronson, Karen Batra, Nan Beal, Becca Bergren, David Boies, Mary Jean Bruno, Michael Bruno, Dana Campbell, Jim Carmalt, Kay Casstevens, Sharon Clark-Napolitano, Paul Cohn, Deborah Davidson, Jennifer Dean, Sue Edwards, Elizabeth Amy Fiore, Rachael Goldman, Blake Grobe, Thom Harris, Nikki Hoffpauir, Ellen Kaplan, Kay Marie Lavorini, Rico Livingston, Julian Lockwood, John V. “Skip” Maraney, Julie Rosenthal McCaffrey, Mark McCaffrey, Neil McElroy, Sara McMullin, Jonathan Mattaz, Nkemjika Ofodile, Karen Pedone, Bill Pietrucha, Becky Prosky, Chad Ramsey, Joel Respress, Gary Schneider, Devin Shadid, Maureen Shanahan, Jamie B. Sinks, Lauren Sinsheimer, Doug Smith, Katrina Snow, Jennifer Strand, Kathy Suydam, Michelle Theel, Jayne Victor, Linda Willson.

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February 28 – March 22, 2003
Rhyme and Punishment

Reviewed February 28
Running time2 hours 15 minutes

Every year for the last 48 years, a lot of talented and highly motivated people put a lot of time and of effort into creating what is billed as an “original, political, musical, comedy revue” for a good cause. The results this year are on display at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Wednesday through Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons over four weeks as Hexagon raises funds for DC Habitat for Humanity.

Storyline: A cast of 45 supported by a pit band of 25 move through 34 songs and skits spoofing, lambasting or gently satirizing the personalities, the movements and the current events that dominate public life in the Potomac Region from George Bush to the sisters Sanchez, from cell phones to potholes and from foreign affairs to more personal ones. No one is particularly safe from the barbs, but those barbs aren’t particularly sharp either.

Among the highlights of this year’s show are John Allnutt’s rock-solid impersonation of George W. right down to the shake of the shoulders and the stammer as he recounts the state of the union with malapropisms for all. He returns later in the evening with a new take on the Abbot and Costello classic “Who’s On First?” which Walter Gilbert adapted as “Hu of China.” Unlike so many other take offs on “Who’s on First?” this one goes on just long enough to be funny and not so long as to be predicable and annoying. His partner on “Hu”, Blake Grobe, gets his biggest laughs of the night, however, wandering through the big number “We Love Cell Phones” asking “Can you hear me now?”

Deborah Davidson belts out a lament over our lack of a baseball team to call our own while Neil McElroy, as Cardinal Law, was the funniest of a series of unemployed celebrities in Phyllis Gerstell’s “Betrayed” sung by impersonators of the likes of Al Gore, Parris Glendenning and Connie Morella. As is Hexagon’s tradition, a different set of guest celebrities each night read spoof news items in four “newsbreaks” that attempt to do what Saturday Night Live has been doing for decades in its “SNL Update” segement.

Music Director and Conductor Andrew Loftus keeps the pace of the evening moving and draws solid performances not only from the band laboring away in the covered pit which muffles much of their contribution, but from the singers and dancers on stage. Pauline S. Grossman’s choreography is well executed by her troupe, including the dozens who tapped their way to glory to the strains of the Nicholas Zill, Howard Bennett critique of our road system, “Glebe Road.”

Artistic director Ian Grossman. Technical director Bill Wisniewski. Music director Andrew Loftus. Choreography by Pauline Grossman. Design: Russell Kopp (set) Ayun Fedorcha (lights) Cheryl Lytle (properties) Stan Harris (sound) Cathy Dunn (makeup) Eleanor Dicks, Richard Battistelli and Pat Plunkert (costumes). Cast: John Allnut, Brent Almond, Heather Marie Andrews, Cheryl Beversdorf, David Boies, Denise Carbone, Kay Casstevens, Andrea Christman, Deborah Davidson, Jennifer Dean, Alicia Fyfe, Hillary Goodman, Terry Gosdin, John P. Grey, Blake Grobe, Dan Grove, Nicole Hoffpauir, Claudia Hotzman, Katha Kissman, William D. LaHood, Omar Latiri, Betsy Libretta, John V. “Skip” Maraney, Duane A. Hincy, Neil McElroy, Mike Meller, Kimberlee Newball, Paula Phipps, Cindy Raiford, Joel Respress, Julie Rosenthal, Kat Sanchez, Gary Schneider, Lauren Schwebel, Bill Seely, Devin Shadid, Jamie Sinks, Doug Smith, Kendra Joy Southerland, Jennifer Strand, Kathy Suydam, Eli Tesfaye, Michelle Theel, Ben Willman, Jerry Wilterding.