Washingtonians take center stage at Will on the Hill
© Shakespeare Theater

Members of Congress, media personalities, consultants and actors dressed up and pretended to get along last night, but it wasn’t for the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Instead, the Shakespeare Theater Company hosted the annual tradition, Will on the Hill, where notable Washingtonians take to the stage and act out classic theater with a modern political twist.

The jokes were better and the outfits were more garish than at the correspondents' dinner, but Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE was still not in attendance.

Joining the Capitol’s denizens were Maulik Pancholy, known for playing Alec Baldwin’s assistant Jonathan on the NBC series "30 Rock;" Ian Kahn, who stars in the AMC series "Turn: Washington’s Spies;" Emily Swallow, a successful actress on the theater circuit who has appeared in shows like "The Mentalist" and "How to Get Away With Murder;" and Santino Fontana, another decorated stage actor who recently voiced “Hans” in the Disney animated film “Frozen.”

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The cast poked fun at the president and themselves in their production, “Met by Moonlight,” a take on Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which Oberon (Kahn), a forest deity, and his assistant, Puck (Pancholy), encounter two park rangers (Swallow and Fontana), and the four then try to stem the flow of people fleeing the heat of D.C. in the summer. 

These people include a class of congressional interns desperate to upgrade the outdoors in hopes of a great resume line to help them get into Yale, a group of staffers fleeing their Congress members, who are hot on their trail after smelling “Red Bull and tears,” and a pack of self-reverent journalists headed for Hollywood, with nothing of note to cover in D.C. during the summer.

Joining them were a few of the city’s best baristas and an office of Washington bureaucrats, who fled the comfort of their offices and their beloved paperwork to avoid the rush of summer tourism to D.C.

Those tourists, sporting socks, sandals, Minnesotan accents and dad jokes, are convinced that the Washington Monument retracts into the ground at night, and constantly stand on the left side of the Metro’s escalators.

The cast frequently referenced the audience. The first time this happened and Pancholy asked, “Are we really breaking the fourth wall this soon?” Kahn responded, “Yes, and we’re going to make the audience pay for it!”

The Hill’s own editor-in-chief, Bob Cusack, and its publisher, Johanna Derlega, performed as well, and one of Cusack’s jokes landed particularly well with the audience. 

“Have you seen a documentary called 'Weiner?'” he asked after another cast member stressed the importance of a well-secured email server. 

“I’m not sure I want to,” Kahn said.

The show ended when the two park rangers realized that Oberon and Puck were the real tourists and sent them away. Santino then professed his love for his fellow park ranger, Swallow, and serenaded her with “Love is an Open Door,” the song his character sang in “Frozen,” and the two retire for a romantic getaway at Martha’s Vineyard. 

Before the show, Pancholy said that after he was offered the chance to participate in this year’s Will on the Hill, the decision was a “no-brainer.” He was unconcerned with the prospect of performing with amateur actors. Quite the opposite, in fact.

“I’m excited. I can learn so much from them diving head first into the text,” he said, and “potentially making fools of themselves.”

The event raised a total of $510,000 for the Shakespeare Theatre Company, which will use the money to fund education and community outreach programs, according to a press release.

The Washington-based cast members included U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch and many Members of Congress including Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsTrump got in Dem’s face over abortion at private meeting: report Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Actor Chris Evans meets with Democratic senators before State of the Union MORE (D-Del.) and Reps. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyDem rep says lower tax refunds are 'bad news' for the economy Dem rep says refunds are low because GOP tax policy doesn't benefit most Americans House Dems worry about lack of women of color in leadership MORE (D-Ohio), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciOvernight Energy: Ocasio-Cortez rolls out Green New Deal measure | Pelosi taps members for climate panel | AOC left out | Court reviews order for EPA to ban pesticide Ocasio-Cortez: ‘I truly do not’ believe Pelosi snubbed me on climate change panel Pelosi names Dems to new climate panel — but not AOC MORE (D-Ore.), Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyDem rep hopes Omar can be 'mentored,' remain on Foreign Affairs panel Fairfax removed from leadership post in lieutenant governors group Virginia Legislative Black Caucus calls on Fairfax to step down MORE (D-Va.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Daniel M. Donovan (R-N.Y.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), George Holding (R-N.C.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchBipartisan House group heads to Camp David retreat Dems unveil bill for Medicare to negotiate drug prices GOP announces members who will serve on House intel panel MORE (D-Vt.).

Other illustrious cast members included Marla Allard, Wa'el Alzayat (Executive Director, EmergeUSA), Gregory Angelo (President, Log Cabin Republicans), Jess Bravin (Supreme Court correspondent), The Wall Street Journal), Ron Christie (Political Strategist), Steve Clemons (Editor At Large, The Atlantic), Maggie Coons, Bob Cusack (Editor in Chief, The Hill), William Christian (Director of Government Affairs at Citizens Against Government Waste), Johanna Derlega (Publisher, The Hill), Karen Dunn (Partner at Boies, Schiller, & Flexner LLP, consultant for House of Cards), Dr. Michael Eric Dyson (Georgetown University professor, host of The Raw Word, and author), Rich Edson (Fox News correspondent), John Feehery (Political Communications Strategist), Paula Fitzgerald (Executive Director, Ayuda), Lee Goodman (Member and former Chair of the Federal Election Commission), Rick Klein (Political Director, ABC News), Maria Teresa Kumar (President, Voto Latino), Dana Milbank (Columnist, The Washington Post), Erica Moody (Deputy Editor, Washington Life), Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform), Hilary Rosen (Partner and Managing Director, SKDKnickerbocker), Christina Sevilla (Deputy Assistant, USTR), Rina Shah (Political consultant at Run with Rina), Ari Shapiro (Host, NPR), Pamela Lynne Sorensen (Pamela’s Punch), Kelly Jane Torrance (Deputy Managing Editor, The Weekly Standard), and Crystal Wright (Editor of the blog Conservative Black Chick and communications consultant at Baker Wright Group).