Citizen satirists of Hexagon bounce back with ‘The Sedition Edition’

The wit is still effervescent and fresh off the news — and the skewering is as savvy and saucy as ever.

March 12, 2020, was the day the COVID theater shutdown began, including the show I was booked to see that night: Hexagon’s 65th annual satire revue. This intrepid all-volunteer organization had been going at it since 1955, and now they had to go dark. Bummer. But here we are three years later, the citizen satirists of Hexagon have bounced back with another original political satirical musical comedy revue — The Sedition Edition — and the skewering is as savvy and saucy as ever.

Both the venue and the cast are a bit smaller than in the past — on a three-quarter floor stage at Montgomery College, about a dozen folks perform about two dozen sketches set to music while a terrific three-piece orchestra plays in the wings — but the wit in the scripts and lyrics is still effervescent and fresh off the news.

The evening kicked off literally with a video recap of chorus lines from shows in 1985, 1995, and 2005, quickly followed by a bit between a press reporter and a demonstrator in a MAGA hat, then a blue-versus-red debate about whether toilet paper should roll over or hang under.

Scene from ‘The Sedition Edition.’ Photo courtesy of Hexagon.

It’s all timely and off-the-wall.

In one sketch a mom and dad quiz their two kids in song about what they learned in school — turns out, one got taught woke; the other, anti-woke. And in another sketch a cohort of cartoon characters — Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Mickey, and Minnie — dispute whatever the heck it is DeSantis is doing with Disneyland. Says one: “He looks like an animal wearing a man costume.” Another, Goofy, deflecting a queer innuendo, says of the questioned relationship, “It was only Plutonic.”

Scene from ‘The Sedition Edition.’ Photo courtesy of Hexagon.

The belly laughs in the show were amply punctuated by pun-groans.

In an ingenious spoof of cancel culture, a chorus equipped with an assortment of noisemakers bleeps out words that others onstage must not speak. And a “Washington Rehash” talk show sends up self-important pundits who go “blah, blah, blah.”

Overall the rightly proud nonprofessional and fun-loving performers seemed not quite rehearsed enough for opening night, but that’s sure to improve; and as in years past, the material the quick-witted writers had come up with often outclassed the cast. But there were some solo standouts, including Daniel Riker as a juggling jester adept at multitasking and Gyr Turshen draped in green boa having a sensual rhumba with her robotic vacuum cleaner (“My Roomba is in love with me, and it’s not a dirty affair”).

It’s the wit in the script and lyrics that’s what’s not to be missed.

A sketch about Pierre L’Enfant’s mapping out the District got guffaws of recognition as he scrawled diagonal streets every which way. A White House Document Retention Squad deployed against a projection of stuffed toilets. Members of a book club — some of whom had read AOC’s recommendations; some, MTG’s — kept cracking crack-up jokes (“Statistics mean you never have to say you’re certain”). And a takeoff called “Bolden Girls” featured the four legendary ladies, one of whom fancied a fling with Dr. Fauci.

Scenes from ‘The Sedition Edition.’ Photos courtesy of Hexagon.

Twice during the show, a pair of real newscasters do Newsbreaks (“brought to you by the miserably shrinking Washington Post”) with jokes in the style of SNL’s Weekend Update (“Donald Trump has been indicted yet again…for removing a mattress tag in 1987”). The guest lineup changes. The night I was there it was Christine Brennan of USA Today and Loo Katz of Hound Radio. The audience loved ’em.

“It’s time to join the AARP” sang a lively bunch of Boomers to the tune of the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” And a song about “that beautiful balloon” (echoing Fifth Dimension’s “Up, Up, and Away”) was sung starry-eyed to animated images of spy balloons.

That COVID did not quash this local comic treasure is one of those things to thank the theater gods for.

Running Time: One hour and 35 minutes, with no intermission.

Hexagon: The Sedition Edition plays through April 29, 2023, presented by Hexagon Inc. performing at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center, Theater II – 7995 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD. Tickets ($25) are available for purchase online.

The program for Hexagon: The Sedition Edition is online here.

COVID Safety: Masks are optional in all Montgomery College locations.

Scenes & Music

Kick Prelude   Videographer: Karl Weaver
Sedition Edition   Lyricist, Composer, Writer & Arranger: Brock Holmes
Quibble and Feud  Writer: Neil McElroy
What Did I Learn In School    Lyricist: Nick Zill, Composer: Jon Nowick, Arranger: Porter Lyon
Betrayed    Lyricist & Composer: Phyllis Gerstell, Arranger: Sue Mason McElroy
Dismal Land   Writer: Kenneth McLeod
Newsbreak 1
Song of Silence    Lyricist: Neil McElroy, Composer & Arranger: Sue Mason McElroy
Blah Blah Blah   Lyricist: Susan Trausch, Composer: Lanny Davis, Arranger: Sue Mason McElroy
Gravity and Levity    Writer: Daniel Riker
Pickleball U.S.A.   Lyricist: Gyr Turshen, Composers: Brian Wilson & Chuck Berry (Surfin’ USA), Arranger: Porter Lyon
Mine Is Bigger Than Yours   Lyricist: George Krumbhaar, Composer & Arranger: Sue Mason McElroy
Here Lies George    Lyricist: Rick Horowitz, Composer & Arranger: Walt Gilbert
Rhumba with my Roomba Lyricist: Gyr Turshen, Composer & Arranger: Brock Holmes
L’Enfant Terrible   Writer: Jim McKnight
Rip It Up? Patch It Up! Lyricist: Rick Horowitz, Composer: Jon Nowick, Arranger: Porter Lyon
Book Club – Morning   Writer: Neil McElroy
Bolden Girls ‘23: Another Day in Paradise   Writer: Cathy Carpousis
Fauci Tango   Lyricist: Kathey Meyer Jeffers, Composer & Arranger: Walt Gilbert
Book Club – Afternoon   Writer: Neil McElroy
AARP    Lyricist: Kathy Meyer Jeffers, Composers: Jacques Morali & Victor Willis (Y.M.C.A.), Arranger: Porter Lyon
Up Up and Oy Vey Lyricist: Rick Horowitz, Composer: Jimmy Webb (Up Up and Away), Arranger: Porter Lyon
Newbreak 2
Goodbye, Goodbye    Lyricist: Cynthia Haney, Composer & Arranger: Doug Maurer

Geoffrey Baskir, Sharon Clark-Napolitano, Allie Heiman, Lucy Hurlbut, Ellen Kaplan, Karen Pedone, Daniel Riker, Gary Schneider, Jamie Sinks, Jennifer Strand, Gyr Turshen, Neil McElroy (cameo), George Krumbhaar (cameo), Neil McElroy, Doug Samuelson (Voice-Over)

Sue Mason McElroy: Piano
Kathy Hurld, Fred Talcott: Bass
Neil McElroy: Drums

Artistic Team
Jennifer Strand: Director
Gyr Turshen: Music Co-Director
Sue Mason McElroy: Music Co-Director
Teri Allred: Mistress of Movement
Judy (Jude) Ebner: Advisor to the Director
Neil McElroy: Materials Coordinator
Robert Teachout: Stage Manager

George Sinks: Technical Director
Dave Means: Set and Artistic Designer
Don Slater: Lighting Designer
Matthew Datcher: Sound Designer
Matt Mills: Video Designer
Cathy Dunn: Make-Up & Wigs Designer
Jamie Breckenridge & Karen Pedone: Costume Co-Designers
Lauren-Nicole Gabel & Jessa Gabel: Properties Co-Designer
Steve Wolf: “The Sedition Edition” Logo Design

Front of House
David Stahl & Charles Williams: House Co-Managers

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John Stoltenberg
John Stoltenberg is executive editor of DC Theater Arts. He writes both reviews and his Magic Time! column, which he named after that magical moment between life and art just before a show begins. In it, he explores how art makes sense of life—and vice versa—as he reflects on meanings that matter in the theater he sees. Decades ago, in college, John began writing, producing, directing, and acting in plays. He continued through grad school—earning an M.F.A. in theater arts from Columbia University School of the Arts—then lucked into a job as writer-in-residence and administrative director with the influential experimental theater company The Open Theatre, whose legendary artistic director was Joseph Chaikin. Meanwhile, his own plays were produced off-off-Broadway, and he won a New York State Arts Council grant to write plays. Then John’s life changed course: He turned to writing nonfiction essays, articles, and books and had a distinguished career as a magazine editor. But he kept going to the theater, the art form that for him has always been the most transcendent and transporting and best illuminates the acts and ethics that connect us. He tweets at @JohnStoltenberg. Member, American Theatre Critics Association.


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