What do politics, Spandex body shapers, Washington area traffic, and colonoscopies have in common? They are all satirical targets in Hexagon 2013: A Raucous Caucus.
If you’re not familiar with Hexagon, you should be. Every year the group offers what they describe as Washington’s ‘only original political, satirical musical comedy revue.’ There is high energy singing, dancing, and beltway humor. Even better, every year the group donates its proceeds to charity. This year’s production is benefitting the DC/MD/VA Chapter of the ALS Association, the organization leading the fight to treat and cure Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Since their founding in 1955, the nonprofit has donated more than $3.5 million to 40-plus organizations. Hexagon 2013 plays through March 16 at Montgomery College in Silver Spring. This year, Hexagon is also making it easier for Virginians by presenting the show March 21-23 in Arlington.
Here’s the most amazing part about Hexagon: Every member of the cast, crew, orchestra, front of house, and production team are volunteers. Hexagon members even write their own material…and there’s a lot of material in the two-hour show. With 32 scenes, 32 cast members, 18 musicians, and more than 100 members of the production team and crew, it is an awesome accomplishment by a talented group of folks.
We immediately get a sense of the show in the opening number, “A Raucous Caucus,” as the full cast offers a comical list of Congressional caucuses…set to music, of course (lyrics, music, and arrangement by Doug Maurer). The list goes on and on and even includes the Congressional Caucus on Qatari-American Economic Strategic Defense, Cultural and Economic Partnership. And yes, that is a real caucus, I looked it up.
There are several numbers that skewer inside the Beltway politics. There’s “Rappin’ with Nancy,” “Spray and Neuter (the Politicians),” “Obama—the Afterglow,” and “In the Line of Booty” ridiculing the booty calls of two generals and some Secret Service agents.
I like the big choir style opening and closing numbers during both the first and second acts that feature most of the cast. “Sic Transit” (lyrics and music by Jim McKnight) opens Act II and is especially fun as it lampoons area traffic reports, construction, and backups (“sixty miles of parking lot”).
One of my favorite running bits throughout the show is an homage to the two hecklers, Statler and Waldorf, from TV’s The Muppet Show. Neil McElroy and Michael Resser are Adams and Morgan, two crotchety men who make less than complimentary comments throughout the show. They deliver their lines with sarcasm and gusto like when they are arguing over whether something is different from another or different than another.
Another staple of Hexagon’s annual show is the Newsbreak portions of the show. The scenes feature jokes about recent news stories read by folks from newspaper, radio, and television—a different duo each night. Opening night featured Jim Bohannon from AM 1500 and Christine Brennan from USA Today Sports and ABC News. While many of the jokes are groaners, the reappearance of the two is a delight. Bohannon knows how to sell a joke no matter if it is good, bad, or ugly.
There are a number of standout performances. The scene “Hamlet and Eggs” features Jonathan Mittaz and Joe Kaplan as guests in a restaurant. Tiara Hairston is the waitress trying to take their order but frustrated as they only speak Shakespeare. Mittaz, especially, delivers the lines as if Shakespeare is his native language and Hairston’s reactions and expressions are not to be missed. “Biden My Time” (lyrics and music by J. Adrian Verkouterem) was especially clever. There are several dance numbers to give the evening an old-style variety show feel. My favorite was the tap dancing zombies in “The Ultimate Apocalypse,” choreographed by Kay Casstevens.
For statistic nerds, “My Silver Man” (lyrics and music by Joe Kaplan) imagined what the announcement might be like if political science statistician and writer Nate Silver was chosen as People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’ Rebecca Clary, Lindsay Droter, Ellen Kaplan, and Kathy Suydam gave strong performances with tight harmonies and an Andrews Sisters-like flare.
Brena Holman was my favorite performer of the evening. She does comedy well but it is her singing voice that is fantastic. She has several opportunities for solos throughout the evening and she is a joy.
Hexagon 2013: A Raucous Caucus is a delightful evening filled with humor and fun. Congratulations to Producer William D. LaHood, Artistic Director Christy Stouffer, and Music Director Mark V. Deal and the entire Hexagon membership for doing a good thing for the ALS Association and doing it well.
Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
A Raucous Caucus plays through March 16, 2013 at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center – 7995 Georgia Avenue, in Silver Spring, MD. The show also plays March 21-23, 2013 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre -125 South Old Glebe Road, in Arlington, VA. Tickets may be purchased online or at the door