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HBS Tastes Some Pudding

“But where can I find a woman solely bent on money and world domination? The business school, of course!” So went one of the lines at the Hasty Pudding show I saw last week, “As the Word Turns”. I was told the play was about Russian spies who sabotage a spelling bee by stealing all the vowels. I wasn’t told about the 15 minute montage which ends the play in which 15 or so Harvard students dance about the stage dressed as bees. Bees with “breasts” and fishnet stockings, who revel in audience ‘participation; voluntary or otherwise.

If you haven’t heard of the Hasty Pudding, it is a Harvard undergraduate theatrical society that dates back to 1795. Back then, the society apparently gathered to feast on pudding and prosecute members in a mock court. Those crazy Harvard kids. They started putting on plays in 1844 and opened them to a general audience in 1876. Their plays were apparently so good, they toured in New York and Philadelphia. Now, they tour in New York and Bermuda- a considerable improvement over Philadelphia.

“As the Word Turns”, like all Hasty Pudding plays, is written and performed by male Harvard undergraduates. They manage to portray the female roles quite realistically – alarmingly so. As you would expect, the play is both intelligently written and raunchy. One of the characters is named Graham Uhr, another Rich Bas’Tard; you get the idea. In one scene, a kid dressed as a poodle sings a song whose words are “I will do it to her doggy style.” For better or for worse, three of the people I went to the play with all had that song stuck in their heads the next day. That’s saying a lot since it was an original tune.

Overall, the play is pretty impressive considering it’s written by students.

However, don’t go expecting Broadway’s next big hit. It’s fun, and it’s worth going to because the theater is famous. But do yourself a favor and knock back a few before the curtain rises.

March 8, 2004
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