- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

The Hexagon Club's "It's a Grand Old Gag Washington's Only Original, Political, Satirical, Musical Comedy Revue" won't be winning any Tony Awards, but the quality of the show isn't really the point. In this case, as some theatergoers on Sunday afternoon implied, the end (helping a worthy cause) justifies the means (staging a somewhat corny all-volunteer musical production at a local high school).

This year, proceeds from the show's two-week run benefits the Hospices of the National Capital Region and Hospice Caring, charities that assist terminally ill people and their families with free emotional and practical care. "Everyone should have the right to die with dignity," said supporter Linda Dunleavy, who said she was very grateful that her husband's death from cancer a few years ago occurred at home, as he wished, with hospice help.

Such sentiments from Mrs. Dunleavy and others explained in part why the theater at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts was nearly full on a cold, drizzly St. Patrick's Day and why 150 of those attending paid $125 to go to the French Embassy for a post-show "Moulin Rouge"-themed auction and buffet.

Nothing at the party but the building was French, and attire was conservative no Nicole Kidmanesque bustiers, certainly. The silent auction, though, included an autographed photo of the "Moulin Rouge" stars, along with some other eclectic donations: an autographed "Christmas With Johnny Mathis" album, a two-hour fly-fishing lesson and, believe it or not, an "initialed, antique white king-size silk bedspread that belonged to Imelda Marcos," valued at $750.

Guests were mostly hospice supporters and members of Hexagon, a social and charitable group of about 400 members, many of whom have thespian proclivities but rather sensibly keep their day jobs. The organization was formed in 1955 by young graduates of Princeton University, home to the all-male theatrical Triangle Club. When the founders decided to include women in their Washington incarnation, they doubled the Triangle into a Hexagon for the event, which soon became an annual tradition of presenting a wacky, satirical show to help a select Washington-area charity. This year, Hexagon hopes to earn $100,000 for the hospice organizations by the time the last show runs on Saturday.

Hexagon president Darrell Capwell, a Triangle Club member during his Princeton days, said that because everything in the revue is original members write all the music, lyrics and comedy sketches and all planning and practicing has to be in the evenings, when players are off work, each production can be a long, drawn-out creative process. "It takes about 300 people to put on a show," Mr. Capwell explained.

This year's revue is a mix of old-fashioned patriotic fervor and campy musical cliches a high-kicking chorus line, for one not to mention such slightly shallow post-September 11 soul-searching lyrics as, "Are we really as awful as we seem?" There were some hilarious, edgier show-saving touches as well.

Better moments included Glenda Lassiter singing a frenetic little number, "Where Is Mummy's Valium?" a Riverdance-style performance to the tune of a song called "Stepping on the Constitution" and periodic "Newsbreaks." As in: Marion Barry has come up with a new campaign slogan ("Let's Get Crackin'") and President Bush's approval rating is above 80 percent ("the first solid B he's ever gotten").

John Allnutt, who works at the FBI by day, did a decent impersonation of Mr. Bush by relying on the requisite verbal blundering, as in "stem-smell research."

"In the late '80s and early '90s, I was doing his father," Mr. Allnutt said later at the party. "His dad was much easier because he uses his arms a lot. The son doesn't do that."

Hexagon member Cindy Wallace summed up the production as "a blend of patriotism and political satire" but admitted that conceiving the comedic political bits was a bit of a challenge in the weeks after the terrorist attacks, when much of America was waving the flag so earnestly.

Few supporters seemed to mind the irreverence. As Mrs. Dunleavy noted, "When we stop laughing at things, we've got a problem."

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