Policymakers embarrass themselves for a good cause

The 15th annual Arena Stage Benefit, held Monday night at the five-star Mandarin Oriental, could also boast of a five-star cast.

The event supports communication engagement, such as helping children learn through theater. This year’s performance included some of Washington’s finest insiders: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Broder; Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas), Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) and Paul Hodes (D-N.H.); and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.).

Another prominent actor was Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who received the American Voice Award for her support for American arts and culture.

The production, entitled “Camp Wannabeapolitiki,” allowed the political celebrities to showcase their performance skills, singing, acting and in some cases busting a dance move or two. The story was about politicians who try to save their secret camp, Wannabeapolitiki, from getting sold as they try to prevent White House staffers and justices from infiltrating their hide-out. The play included everything from corny egg jokes (“That’s egg-cellent,” an actor remarked) to gags about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and D.C. not having a vote.

Those who unleashed their inner actor most fully were Rothman and Hodes. Together they went into their parts, talking in children’s voices that elicited much audience laughter. At one point they were forced to relinquish their BlackBerrys to the owner of the camp.

“I feel naked,” Hodes said, sounding as if he were going to start crying.

Lieberman drew the most laughs when he came out on stage in a leather jacket and black sunglasses, looking like a rock star or the cool guy in high school — not exactly a perfect fit for the senator who has the physique of a librarian.

It wasn’t a Broadway show, but it was an evening to remember. Most importantly, it was for a good cause. And if the leaders of our country won’t make a sacrifice for our children, who will?