It’s not often you get some of the biggest names in the DC theater community together in one room—and even less often that most of them are up on stage performing on one night, but that’s exactly what you can expect on Monday night, August 18, when Signature Theatre hosts the Third annual Summer Hummer, the naughty and hilarious benefit for theatreWashington’s Taking Care of Our Own. “The initiative was conceived three years ago by Eric Schaeffer, who wanted to come up with something to provide support for theater professionals in need,” says Brad Watkins, theatreWashington’s director of theatre services, who is also leads the Taking Care of Our Own Advisory Panel. “I was brought on board to task how to do that and we came up with this idea for a Bucket Brigade, which began at the Helen Hayes awards, and concluded with a show and revue. It evolved into a show where actors would come together and do dances or songs or skits with a little more saucy edge to it.”
Titled Summer Hummer: Ménage à Trois, this year’s two performances will take place on Monday,August 18th will take place at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in Signature’s MAX Theatre.
– programming change: There will be one performance on Monday night at 8 p.m. –
“The Summer Hummer has proven to be one of the most unique evenings of theater in Washington,” Watkins says. “Some of the greatest talent in town participate—close to 60 artists—and this is not a theatreWashington production. It belongs to the whole Washington theater community.”
This year’s Summer Hummer is directed by Helen Hayes Award recipients Matthew Gardiner and Eric Schaeffer, and choreographed by Helen Hayes Award recipient Karma Camp.
The Who’s Who of performers includes Mary Lee Adams, Jay Adriel, Eunice Bae, Shayna Blass, Kurt Boehm, Evan Casey, Mark Chandler, Austin Colby, Jen Cordiner, Carolyn Cole, Jordan DeBona, Susan Derry, Natascia Diaz, Chris Dinolfo, Erin Driscoll, Lauren Dupree, Jamie Eacker, Catie Flye, James Gardiner, Will Gartshore, Daphne Epps, Jefferson Farber, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Colleen Hayes, Will Hayes, Nick Lehan, Michael Litchfield, David Little, Donna Migliaccio, Angela Miller, Chris Mueller, Stephen Russel Murray, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Nora Palka, Maria Rizzo, Nicholas Rodriguez, Paul Scanlan, Ryan Sellers, Bobby Smith, Stephen Gregory Smith, Dani Stoller, and Nick Vaughn, Lauren Williams, and Sherri L. Edelen in a special video appearance.
“Our list of performers is growing. Eric and Matthew don’t say no to anyone and they are integrating non-musical performers into the mix this year,” Watkins says. “Musical theater is very portable and works well in this but we also reached out to our friends who were primary at Shakespeare Theatre and Woolly Mammoth. Everyone feels the love and it’s a real fun thing.”
Last year’s Summer Hummer raised $25,000 and Watkins hopes to exceed that figure this year. With the talent taking the stage, he doesn’t see why that would be a problem.
Christopher Youstra, Associate Artistic Director at Olney Theatre Center, known for his wonderful skill of writing musical parodies and original music with clever lyrics, has penned a naughty ditty for this year’s opening number.
“There are a lot of great fun numbers done in a way you might not expect,” Watkins says “There’s a little bit of skin all under blue lighting, but no indiscretions or genitalia—it is a little frisky and risqué yet all done in great fun.”
The entire evening is staffed and performed by volunteers, and Watkins feels grateful that there’s so much talent on and off the stage helping out.
“This is the one night a year when the best and brightest of Washington theater come to help their fellow professionals by raising money in a very fun way,” Watkins says. “There’s nothing else like this. You don’t get to see all these people up on stage together—ever!”
Some numbers have as many as 40 or 50 people performing together, hamming it up and strutting their stuff.
“For those who like it hot, it’s fun and gaudy, not a bunch of corsets and winks. It’s much more energetic and a lot of contemporary music is used,” Watkins says. “It’s partly for someone who wants something unique and original, partly for someone who wants something a little naughty and also a chance to come out and support people who make theater in this town.”
Summer Hummer: Ménage à Trois will be onstage at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave, (Shirlington Village) Arlington, VA.
Tickets are available now: $35 for general admission and $75 for prime reserved seating. Click here for tickets.