There were a whole lot of testimonials at Monday night's Shakespeare Theatre Company gala, celebrating the company's artistic director Michael Kahn and its 25th anniversary, but the one that stuck out was from former first daughter Chelsea Clinton.
Clinton, making a rare appearance on a public stage in Washington, took the audience back with her to 1994 as she viewed her first Shakespeare Theatre Company production. It was "Romeo and Juliet" at the Lansburgh Theatre.
"I came with my friend Jackie largely to see whether or not Romeo and the play were as romantic rendered on stage as what we had just finished reading in our freshmen English class," Clinton explained. "By the end of the first act I knew he and it was, fairly soon thereafter I was completely captivated, and by the time we left I knew I had found a place I wanted to be part of my growing up in Washington." For the next three years Clinton attended every production that coincided with the school year and once she went away to Stanford she attended every production that coincided with the holidays. "It enabled me, in a very strange way, to have somewhat of a normal upbringing and for that I am profoundly grateful," she said.
Besides Clinton, the gala — which spanned more than six hours including a performance, a parade to the National Building Museum, dinner and dancing — attracted a diverse group.
There were actors: Patrick Stewart, Bradley Whitford and Stacy Keach, to name a few. There were Supremes: Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor and Elena Kagan, that we saw. There were actors with Supremes: Stewart scooted next to Kagan during dessert and the two carried on an animated conversation for a good 30 minutes.
And while the affair had parts that were highbrow: opera, ballet and, of course, Shakespeare. There were parts that were lowbrow too. The deejay ended the night playing some modern classics including "The Thong Song."