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To Hill and Back

Nineteen Members of Congress, five journalists, two professional actors, one Member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament and many other Washington, D.C., notables took to the stage to rehearse “Romeo and Juliet” in front of a packed house to raise money for a good cause.

Monday’s “Will on the Hill” benefit raised more than $400,000 for the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s local educational programs. (Courtesy Margot Schulman)

The premise of the skit, “Speak the Speech, I Pray You,” had Members portraying fictional Members of Congress and Washington notables who come together to pull off William Shakespeare’s great love story and tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet.”

In real life, the performers pulled together the skit after just one rehearsal, and even then, some of them missed practice. New York Rep. Michael Grimm (R), who was quite good, pulled off his role sans rehearsal.

No one inside the Beltway is spared. Democrats play Republicans mocking Democrats, and Members dressed up as lobbyists to lampoon special interests. Super PACs, voters, bloggers and Politico also were treated to a good-natured ribbing.

Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) played Libertarian, a fan of long-shot GOP candidate Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), who once ran for president as a Libertarian.

“A plague on both your houses!” Connolly’s Libertarian shouted.

“You’re a lunatic,” snarked Veanne Cox, the Tony Award-nominated actress playing the director.

“It’s pronounced ‘Libertarian,’” Connolly sniffed.

Libertarians weren’t the only group to get roasted.

“Taxes cure cancer!” shouted the evening’s Republican, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

Conservative political analyst Bill Kristol played an apologetic Democrat wearing a jester’s hat.

Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R) played Super PAC Man, taunting everyone with a checkbook.

NPR’s Susan Stamberg and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) played parroting talking heads for the cable news host, Rick Klein of “ABC News.”

Perhaps the most amusing part of the show was after the players took their bows. The “Will on the Hill” chairmen took to the stage to thank those who made the evening a success: lawyers, corporations, politicians and media companies. Or, as Jimmy Kimmel identified them at the recent White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, everything that is wrong with America.

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