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 TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report 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 CusackRobert (Bob) CusackThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Thousands expected for George Floyd's Houston visitation The Hill's Morning Report - Capitol Hill weighs action on racial justice as protests carry on The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead MORE 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 ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog Overnight Energy: Trump officials may pursue offshore drilling after election, report says | Energy regulators to delay projects pending appeals | EPA union calls for 'moratorium' on reopening plans MORE, British Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch and many Members of Congress including Sen. 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Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattySanders raised over 0,000 for candidates in Tuesday primaries The Hill's Campaign Report: Progressives raise expectations ahead of big primary night Left eyes huge night in NY, Kentucky primaries MORE (D-Ohio), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Suzanne BonamiciSuzanne Marie BonamiciOur resilient ocean can help revitalize our economy We need to prevent food waste at school Pelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention MORE (D-Ore.), Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyBlack Caucus rallies behind Meeks for Foreign Affairs gavel Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe House committee chair requests immediate briefing on Secret Service's involvement in clearing protesters MORE (D-Va.), Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchUS lawmakers call on EU to label entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization 189 House Democrats urge Israel to 'reconsider' annexation Partisan divide on annexation complicates US-Israel relationship MORE (D-Fla.), Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDingell pushes provision to curtail drunk driving in House infrastructure package 18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards Pelosi: George Floyd death is 'a crime' MORE (D-Mich.), Daniel M. 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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).