At the cozy Ford’s Theatre last night, Raytheon Co. (RTN)’s senior vice president of business development, Thomas Culligan, and U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus took in “1776,” the rollicking musical about the American Revolution.
The show opened on the same night British Prime Minister David Cameron was the guest of honor at a state dinner at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“We need to declare our independence,” said Tony Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group. “This is much more fun than a state dinner.”
The production also brought out Jonathan Jarvis, director of the U.S. National Park Service, who was just the person to announce that cherry blossoms were about to bloom in the Tidal Basin. Also present: David Leiter, president of ML Strategies, and Tamera Luzzatto, former chief of staff to Hillary Clinton when she was a senator.
The evening had many guests reflecting on American history.
“There’s only one country in the world that we fought a war not to be a part of,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “If we were in the Balkans this would be considered recent history. We don’t do that. We barely remember World War II.”
U.S. Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, rattled off some of his favorite American historians during intermission. The list included Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough.
Boston as Cradle
The after-party with the cast took place at Old Ebbitt Grill. Presiding at a table in the corner, Culligan of Raytheon said his company had decided to sponsor the “1776” production in part because its headquarters are in Boston, one of the cradles of the American rebellion.
As for the statecraft of the prime minister’s visit:
Mabus, a Mississippi native, said he was happy President Barack Obama had taken Cameron to an NCAA basketball game featuring Mississippi Valley State. (The team lost to Western Kentucky, 59-58.)
Meanwhile, the music world was pleased to note that Deborah Borda, the powerful president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, had attended the White House State Dinner dressed in a Carolina Herrera gown, and in the company of David C. Bohnett, the orchestra’s chairman. Others in attendance included Anna Wintour and George Clooney.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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