“People bring dollar bills and throw them at the performers,” says Eric D. Schaeffer. “The more that are thrown, the more clothes come off.”
The Artistic Director of Signature Theatre isn’t referring to a night out at Secrets, but the “Summer Hummer,” an annual benefit for TheatreWashington’s “Taking Care of Our Own,” which helps actors with emergency funds for things like unexpected medical expenses. The evening of bawdy burlesque and show tunes, brimming with sexual innuendo, involves more than a hundred actors and theater professionals, including Schaeffer, who co-directs the event with Matthew Gardiner. “Matt and I tag team it because it’s big,” says Schaeffer. “There’s so many people that you’re coordinating, it takes two of us to get it all organized.”
Billed as an evening for “Mature Audiences Only,” this year’s baudfest, subtitled “Champions: Stronger, Harder, Longer,” will again be hosted by Rick Hammerly, who “says the nastiest things,” laughs Schaeffer. The evening’s tone is deliberately sexualized, but in a playful, campy way. Last year, for instance, Nova Payton sang “He Fills Me Up,” backed by a chorus of eight women twirling glow-in-the-dark dildoes. The director is coy about what surprises lie ahead for this year’s “Hummer,” which takes place at Arlington’s Signature Theatre on Monday night, but he reveals that Sherri Edelen will revive her iconic Miss Pussy routine, sporting a “tacky, nasty catsuit.”
Last year’s “Hummer” raised $25,000 — and this year Schaeffer is hoping to best that number by five, noting that $7,000 in sponsorships has already been raised. In all, “Taking Care of Our Own” has dispensed more than $98,000 to theater professionals, who can request up to $5,000, in need.
“The ‘Hummer’ is definitely the best night in the theater,” says Schaeffer, whose next big musical project at Signature is December’s Titanic. “People are like, ‘How are you going to do fucking Titanic?’ And I’m like, ‘Just you wait, just you wait.'”
“Summer Hummer V: Champions” is Monday, August 22, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (“the one where everyone is usually liquored up and gets a little looser”) at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. General admission is $35. VIP Reserved Seating is available for $100. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
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