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Last year’s sold-out Gala After Hours proved that the Shakespeare Theatre Company definitely knows how to throw a party, and this year (which is officially media sponsored by BYT, as the ultimate sign of our excitement/approval) will certainly be no exception. The black-tie event for DC’s most culturally in tune young professionals is sure to be a memorable evening packed with jaw-dropping, unique performances followed by a VIP cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and lots of dancing in the swanky West Court of the National Building Museum.

The gala will honor the phenomenally accomplished stage and screen actor, F. Murray Abraham, whose illustrious career has spanned everything from film to television and, of course, great portrayals of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters on stage.

The theme of this year’s gala is “Shakespeare’s Timeless Characters,” and everything that takes place at the Gala will radiate that theme.  Since Shakespeare arguably wrote the greatest characters in the history of drama, each performance piece will embody the essence his most iconic, recognizable characters in the form of everything from opera to rap.

“What we love about the Gala is that it’s not just a chance to get great actors, but it’s a chance for us to get all different kinds of performers in many disciplines,” said Alan Paul, Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theater Company.

Here’s a preview of all of the performances you just can’t miss at this year’s Gala.

Paul Taylor Dance Company: “Troilus and Cressida, Reduced”

The world-renowned dance company will take the stage at this year’s Gala and perform a humorous piece based on one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known but indisputably brilliant plays, “Troilus and Cressida.” Although the play tells the tale of a bitter romance, Paul calls the piece “laugh out loud funny,” which is a rare feat in dance performance.

Lauren Flanigan: “Antony and Cleopatra”

The internationally-acclaimed soprano and New York City Opera star will make her first appearance at Harman Hall performing selections from Samuel Barber’s opera, “Antony and Cleopatra.”  Paul says that although the score is absolutely beautiful, it’s not performed often, so he “thought it would be an unusual thing for Washington audiences to see.”  Flanigan, who has been hailed as having “one of the most distinctive careers of any artist of her generation,” will undoubtedly have a unique approach to performing the timeless piece.

The Q Brothers: “Othello the Remix”

These two rapping brothers from Chicago were recently commissioned by London’s Globe Theater to compose a hip-hop interpretation to Shakespeare’s iconic drama, “Othello” for the Globe-to-Globe festival. “Othello the Remix” was a massive hit across the pond and ignited an international buzz about these particularly poetic rappers.  The Gala is thrilled to have The Q Brothers along with two of their castmates perform a segment from their wildly popular Shakespearean hip-hop piece.

“Rap and Shakespeare have something in common because they both depend on fireworks of language, and these guys have got it,” said Paul.

Howard McGillin, the Tony-nominated, Broadway veteran, perhaps best known for reaching the tremendous feat of being the longest running Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, “The Phantom of the Opera,” will lend his iconic tenor voice to the Gala’s performances this year. Additionally, renowned television actors Jerry Stiller and Bill Irwin, friends of the Gala’s honoree, F. Murray Abraham, will have a significant role in the evening’s performances.

Paul said he also has an extremely special surprise performance in store for Gala attendees, and although no details regarding the performance will be released, he made it clear that the surprise will be quite memorable.

“All I can tell you is that the surprise we have planned is more than worth the price of admission,” said Paul.

Tickets are still on sale, but they’re going quickly (very quickly,) so if you’re interested in attending this undoubtedly amazing event head over to the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s website now to grab your tickets before it’s too late!