‘Will on the Hill’ Play Celebrates Shakespeare

Posted April 23, 2010 at 6:16pm

It’s often said that politics is theater. Several Members of Congress will take this theory to a new level tonight, when they show off their acting skills in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual fundraising performance, “Will on the Hill.”

“We’re all just hoping to have fun and not embarrass ourselves,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said.

The production is in its seventh year and will feature both politicians and members of the media. Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.) are all scheduled to perform, as are journalists Jessica Yellin of CNN and Major Garrett of Fox News. The play will also feature actor Peter Jacobson, who has a role on the TV series “House.”

This year’s production, “The Play’s the Thing!” was written by Peter Byrne and tells the story of a president — played by Wicker — who is struggling to write his State of the Union address.

After his Cabinet and staff get wind of their leader’s struggle, they come together to put on a show based on the works of Shakespeare in hopes of inspiring him. The play, which is being performed at Sidney Harman Hall, is written in modern English with Shakespearean dialect sprinkled throughout.

“It’s completely tongue in cheek,” said David Muse, who is directing the show for a sixth time. “It’s a chance for Congresspeople, media people and politicos to wear fancy robes and crowns and poke some fun at themselves and speak some Shakespeare.”

With such a cast of varied personalities and schedules, it has been difficult for Muse to gather the participants for more than one 90-minute rehearsal. He says working with this motley crew is a break from his everyday job of directing actors, though it is still “definitely work.” Even so, he does have a few standout performers.

“There’s some people who impress us every year,” Muse said. “You should check out Donna Edwards, who is quite good.”

Proceeds from the performance will benefit the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s education, artistic and community outreach programs. This year the event is on track to raise more than $260,000.

The show is preceded by a cocktail reception and followed by a buffet dinner. Tickets for the performance and dinner cost $250, while tickets for just the performance cost $50.