- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

Just because war is looming and the economy is weak doesn't mean Washington's venerable Hexagon players are suddenly going to start walking on eggs as far as the political establishment is concerned.

As always, the 45-strong cast pulled no punches during Saturday night's benefit performance of this year's revue, "Rhyme and Punishment," at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

Satirical jabs landed deftly on President Bush, Metro, corporate greed, homeland security and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to name but a few of the victims.

"People expect this level of political satire. The audience would be disappointed if we didn't deliver," said Bill Seely, one of 400 Hexagon volunteers who helped raise about $100,000 for D.C. Habitat for Humanity, this year's charitable recipient.

The Hexagon performance, which runs through March 22, includes 29 sketches and four news breaks, a la "Saturday Night Live." Saturday's show featured faux anchors Erica Hillary and Loo Katz, both of WASH-FM, doing very silly versions of "the news."

Among the funnier skits were "Sunday in Kabul," with 34 perfectly synchronized cast members tap-dancing across the stage in burkas, and a takeoff of the Learning Channel's TV show "While You Were Out," in which an interior decorator redoes one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in order to hide chemical, biological and other weapons. The Iraqi dictator is overjoyed by the results, which include an anthrax-filled shaving-cream dispenser and nuclear weapons in the sauna.

President Bush's famous malapropisms also were a convenient target. Bush impersonator John Allnutt parodied the State of the Union address with such verbal concoctions as "babybloomers," "misapprehensive" and "efficitively."

Corporate greed and the Roman Catholic Church came under fire, as well, when actors in pinstriped suits or clerical attire sang, "We keep sin safe in our vault while we do the cover-up waltz."

The let-it-all-hang-out approach is nothing new, Hexagon President Patt Seely affirmed.

"It's our tradition," Mrs. Seely said. "There are no sacred cows."

During the post-performance gala at the school, Hexagon members joined D.C. Habitat staff and volunteers to enjoy food, drink and music by a home-grown jazz sextet. It included a silent auction and all the desserts you could eat (including a fantastic lemon cake from lawyer-turned-baker Warren Brown's CakeLove bakery).

This is the second time Hexagon has picked D.C. Habitat, which builds homes and provides loans to low-income families who don't qualify for conventional mortgages. In 1996, Hexagon also raised about $100,000 which is close to what it costs to build a Habitat for Humanity house, according to Clare Parmalee, the group's board chairman.

It seems only fitting that D.C. Habitat's next house the 67th it has built in Northeast Washington will feature a commemorative plaque reading, "The home that was built by Hexagon."

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