- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

The phrase Gucci Gulch took on fresh meaning Monday during Arena Stage's 10th benefit comedy night, a roundup and sendup of Washington's celebrity and political denizens.

This year's original script, written and directed, as usual, by Arena stalwart Nick Olcott, was a ride on the wild side titled "Wild Wild Washington" with the initials D.C. standing for Dodge City and the lobbyists' corridor becoming "K Street Canyon" on a rustic signpost above "Beltway Boothill."

Nothing too subtle and everything geared for a quick laugh to puncture the pride and skewer the peccadillos of normally respectable folks. The stars cajoled by Arena board member and National Journal Publisher John Fox Sullivan to cavort about the Kreeger stage set (borrowed from Arena's current hit, "Moon for the Misbegotten") included Reps. Louise M. Slaughter, Robert T. Matsui, Constance A. Morella, Carrie P. Meek and Sam Farr. Among the local honchos: Fannie Mae head Franklin Raines, Deputy D.C. Mayor John Koskinen, Mayor's Chief of Staff Kelvin Robinson and D.C. Council members Harold Brazil and Carol Schwartz.

The private sector was represented by communications company executive Priscilla Hill-Ardoin (her SBC firm was listed as production sponsor), top lobbyists Tom Boggs and Ken Duberstein and comedian Mark Russell. Journalists in Stetsons included CNN's Bill Press and girl-about-town Cokie Roberts.

Ruthie and the Wranglers strummed country tunes as former Rep. Fred Grandy, aided by actors E. Faye Butler and J. Fred Shiftman, strutted their stuff to wordplay instead of gunplay.

Writer Kitty Kelley's drop-dead red decolletage made heads turn in the role of dance-hall girl Miss Kitty, hailed by Mr. Grandy in his role of a "brave, honest and true" lawman as having a "dubious reputation and a heart of gold" and working on an "unauthorized biography of Wyatt Earp."

However hilarious the high jinks out front, talk rustlers were busy backstage as well. "It's the only night I will be friends with them all," joked radio commentator and cast member Mark Plotkin. Only D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton showed a serious side, soliciting signatures from any District voters present for her re-election petition before donning a 10-gallon hat and sauntering out to the make-believe frontier.

Ann Geracimos

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