Scene in D.C.: Abraham’s Shylock, Matthews’s Brutus

Harman Gala
Actor F. Murray Abraham and Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn. Abraham was the recipient of the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre and was the gala honoree. Photographer: Stephanie Green/Bloomberg

F. Murray Abraham has a soft spot for Shylock, a role he performed off Broadway.

At Monday night’s Harman Center for the Arts Annual Gala, the Academy Award winner recited a monologue from “The Merchant of Venice” and received the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre.

Shylock represents “what’s missing in America -- justice,” Abraham said at the cocktail reception. “Why aren’t all those bankers in jail?”

The Harman Center for the Arts is the home of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, which received its first Tony this year for best regional theater.

The gala brought out 500 guests. The Harman Center gave its Sidney Harman Award for Philanthropy in the Arts to the venue’s builder, Clark Construction Group LLC, recognizing a business for the first time.

Its namesake is the late Sidney Harman, who was chairman of Newsweek Daily Beast Co. before he died last year. His widow, the former California Congressman Jane Harman, attended in shimmering Oscar de la Renta with Gordon Zacks, the chairman of RG Barry Corp.

Abigail Blunt, the wife of Senator Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, wore understated black Zara. She said she was unaccompanied because her husband was on the campaign stump for Mitt Romney.

Also solo was Greenberg Traurig LLP attorney Timothy Jessell, husband of soprano Renee Fleming, who’s performing in “Otello” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Dream Role

Grace Paine Terzian, vice president for communications at The Hudson Institute, had a date night with her daughter, Gracie. The younger Terzian will act in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

After a tribute performance to Abraham, which featured the Q Brothers rapping a hip-hop version of “Othello,” guests gathered at the National Building Museum for halibut and dancing.

Jessell dined with Fleming’s sister, Rachelle Fleming, a voice instructor at the Catholic University of America. They were the guests of Anita Antenucci, senior managing director at Houlihan Lokey Inc., and a member of the gala committee. She is busy recruiting government contractors to support the theater.

Other guests included MSNBC host Chris Matthews, and his wife, Kathleen, an executive vice president for Marriott International. Matthews said he loved Brutus from “Julius Caesar,” whom he portrayed while in the Peace Corps.

Irish Ambassador

Garry Hynes, the first woman to win a Tony for play direction, was the guest of honor last night at the residence of Irish Ambassador Michael Collins. Hynes directed the Druid Theatre Company in “DruidMurphy,” a trilogy of plays by acclaimed Irish writer Tom Murphy at the Kennedy Center this week.

For those not getting enough Irish culture through the arts, Collins suggested traveling to Ireland to boost the country’s flagging economy.

Collins referred to musicians Brendan Mulvihill and Brendan Sheridan as “the two Brendans.” The Irishmen played traditional songs on fiddle and guitar.

Among the guests and cast members packing the house were Dennis Houlihan, a policy analyst for AFSCME International, and Nossaman LLP partner Paul Quinn.

(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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