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The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, known informally simply as The Pudding, is a theatrical student society at Harvard Universitymarker, known for its burlesque musical and for its status as the oldest collegiate theatrical organization in the United States. They present original student-written and -composed musicals with near-professional production values.

History

Formed in 1795 as an artistic-minded fraternity, the Pudding began hosting mock trials of such phenomena as timely Harvard presidents and the study of mathematics. The Pudding put up its first full performance, of a well-known tragic burlesque entitled Bombastes Furioso, on December 13th, 1844. It has performed a production every year since, except twice during World War I and twice during World War II. After a period of producing popular comedies written by established playwrights, the Pudding began to write its own shows, starting with a production of Dido and Aeneas written by Owen Wister in 1882.

Previous members of the Theatricals have included Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Randolph Hearst, lyricist Alan Jay Lerner, Oscar winner Jack Lemmon, humorist Andy Borowitz, and former Massachusettsmarker governor William Weld.

Although the cast remains all-male (with female parts performed by actors in drag), women participate in the productions as writers, composers, orchestra, and members of the business staff and tech crew. Each spring, the Theatricals holds a 5-week run in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker, and then tours to New York Citymarker and Bermudamarker. The 2009 production is titled Acropolis Now and the 2008 production was titled Fable Attraction.

The Pudding's long history has served two seemingly contradictory functions. On the one hand its deliberately retro theatrical trappings (all-male cast; all-live pit orchestra with no computers or synthesizers; no sound amplification until recently; silly plots full of crude jokes, collegiate humor and anachronistic puns) seem to preserve a museum-piece approach to musical theater.

Yet the Pudding has served for decades as an incubator of new talents: Pudding graduates are leaders in the fields of writing, directing, and performing in theater, television, movies and the other arts. The last three winners of the prestigious annual Ed Kleban Award for achievement in lyric writing have each been Pudding graduates. Pudding librettist Mark O'Donnell won a Tony Award in 2003 for co-authoring the book for Hairspray. He also co-authored the book for the Broadwaymarker musical Cry-Baby; its lyrics were penned by fellow Pudding alum David Javerbaum, who has won eight Emmy Awards as head writer for The Daily Show -- which also featured comedian Mo Rocca, a former Pudding librettist and President. Actress Rashida Jones (seen in The Office, Boston Public, and the film I Love You, Man) co-composed the score of the show during her senior year. Paris Barclay wrote two Pudding shows and later won two Emmys for directing NYPD Blue. Pudding actor and composer Laurence O'Keefe wrote the music and lyrics for the Off-Broadway show Bat Boy: The Musical; and he and his wife, Pudding librettist Nell Benjamin co-wrote the score to the Broadwaymarker musical Legally Blonde. Pudding bookwriter Mark O'Keefe co-wrote and co-produced the movies Bruce Almighty and Click.

Origins of Name

The name comes from a Colonial Era (originally British) dish called hasty pudding, a kind of porridge made from cornmeal with molasses, honey or other ingredients, a New World cousin to the Italian polenta; called "hasty" because it is cheap and easy to make. It is not clear whether the dish was originally a staple or a dessert, but it is now served for dessert at the banquets thrown by the Pudding, such as opening night celebrations and the annual 'roasts' for their Man/Woman of the Year (see below).

Honorary Awards

The society is notable for their annual selection of famous actors as Woman of the Year (since 1951) and Man of the Year (since 1967). These awards are usually treated with great seriousness by the honoree, who always attends the awards ceremony, and are treated to a celebratory "roast," and a parade.

Below is a list of those who have received the award:

Women of the Year



Men of the Year



External links




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