The 9:30 PM ‘Summer Hummer V: Champions’ at Signature Theatre

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Last night, Signature Theatre presented their fifth annual Summer Hummer benefit, Summer Hummer V. Champions. Stronger. Harder. Longer. And was it ever. The event’s proceeds go to Taking Care of Our Own, a fund created for aiding local theater artists in emergencies and times of financial hardship.

Sherri L. Edelen in the 2012 Summer Hummer. Photo by Jen Clements.
Sherri L. Edelen in the 2012 Summer Hummer. Photo by Jen Clements.

With a hilarious Olympics opening ceremony style video, Miss Puss (Summer Hummer veteran, Sherri L. Edelen) carried the illustrious Hummer torch through town to start off the festivities, which were expertly directed by Matthew Gardiner and Signature Theatre’s Artistic Director, Eric Schaeffer.

Rick Hammerly was our fearless Master of Ceremonies for the night, complete with fabulous high-heels and a one-piece that did not leave much to the imagination.  With the disclaimer of, ‘If you’re offended, you’re at the wrong f*#%ing show!’, Hammerly fluffed… I mean, prepped the audience for the debauchery to come, with a tongue-in-cheek humor that set the bar high for the acts to come.

Donna Migliaccio at 'Summer Hummer V: Champions.' Photo courtesy of theatreWashington.
Donna Migliaccio at ‘Summer Hummer V: Champions.’ Photo by Ryan Maxwell.

There were countless notable moments and memorable performances, and audience participation was mandatory.  James Gardiner and Evan Casey led a game of ‘Mad Libs’ that concluded with the incredible Donna Migliaccio delivering a much altered and side-splitting rendition of “Send in the Clowns.”

Amid the exposed flesh and vulgar language, Dan Manning walked onto the stage with his cowboy hat and guitar. But his grandfatherly persona was quickly turned on its head when he sang his first song, “He Only Loves Me Where I Poop.”

Tracy Lynn Olivera at 'Summer Hummer V: 'Champions.' Photo courtesy of theatreWashington.
Tracy Lynn Olivera at ‘Summer Hummer V: ‘Champions.’ Photo by Ryan Maxwell.

The rocking diva, Tracy Olivera, led the Summer Hummer Company in a strip tease, while cast members crawled through the crowd with buckets to collect donations. Choreography by Matthew Gardiner was smoking hot and the performers earned every dollar thrown on the stage or tucked in the strap of their G-strings.

Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here” was sung by Evan Casey and Bobby Smith, with a charm and class that beautifully juxtaposed the raunchy twist to the lyrics. The men draped themselves on the stairs of stage, with their disheveled suits and the ice in their rocks’ glasses clinking, demonstrating that bare skin is not always the height of sexiness.

Eric Schaeffer.
Eric Schaeffer.

There was no end to the laughter and cheering but the show’s highlight actually came from a seemingly unscripted segment, when a certain Co-founder and Artistic Director of Signature Theatre was encouraged-by two individual $1000 dollar donations from the audience-to strut the stage in his Birthday suit. Extremely appropriate, as it was his birthday.

Still, let us not forget that all of the wildly sensual fun and games were for a good cause. Before the stellar finale of the show, Matt Conner, the “tight end” (complete with football jersey and not much else), announced that the fundraising goal of 30k for the Benefit was not only met but doubled.

The whole of the production team created a solid and seamless production, including Grant Wilcoxen and E-hui Wood (Lighting Design), Lane Elms (Sound Design), Darius Smith (Music Direction), and Eric Schaeffer and James Gardiner (Video Production).

And The Hummer Band, consisting of Gerry Kunkle, Joe McCarthy, Bill Hones, and Darius Smith, did an outstanding job accompanying the performers.

Beyonce Dancers. Photo courtesy of theatreWashington.
Beyonce Dancers. Photo by Ryan Maxwell.

Every person involved with Summer Hummer V: Champions deserves the utmost appreciation for a show that touched every audience member in the room-be it in their pockets or their pants-and created a spectacular event for a worthy cause. Mark your calendars now: Summer Hummer VI is scheduled for Monday, August 21, 2017.

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Summer Hummer V: Champions played on August 22, 2016 at 7:30 and 9:30 PM at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, VA.

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