Harman joined Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), along with 17 members, “Veep” star Anna Chlumsky, and eight Washington insiders — including The Hill’s Managing Editor Bob Cusack — in taking the stage at the humor-filled, one-night-only show.
Participants received the script the day of the performance and were only given two hours of rehearsal time.
With most Capitol Hill regulars sporting Shakespearean-style robes — and a few speaking with mildly convincing British accents — the group put their acting skills on full display for the play, “Toil and Trouble.”
Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s 'Toil and Trouble' Photo by Kevin Allen.
The scenes were meant to offer a glimpse inside Washington’s media circus, with the staff of a news network put on high alert after the White House announces it will deliver a major statement at any moment.
With nothing to go on, but plenty of airtime to fill, two TV anchors, played by Chlumsky and actor Todd Scofield, try to hold onto their audience by bringing on a series of political guests – all of whom have been attending a Shakespearean costume ball.
Some of the gags included the accuracy of the news (“Look – I’m not going to make things up – that’s CNN’s job,”), the sensationalism of the media (“Civil conversation? Potential compromise? Not our finest hour,”), the political system as a whole (“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them – the rest are members of Congress”), and individual members of Congress (“Paul Ryan – the lord of all policies fiscal, the master of the P90 … X!”).
Anna Chlumsky, Todd Scofield in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s performance of 'Toil and Trouble.' Photo by Kevin Allen.
And the mysterious news everyone was waiting for? An official apology from President Obama for letting Beyonce lip-synch the national anthem at the inauguration.
Tickets from the sold out show — The Hill was among the media sponsors — raised more than $400,000 for the education and outreach programs of the Shakespeare Theatre Company.