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Hasty Pudding to Produce 'Up Your Ante!'

By Kelly T. Yee

Audiences can expect to see showgirls kicking unshaven legs and lounge singers crooning pun-filled lyrics in "Up Your Ante!", this year's Hasty Pudding Theatricals production.

The Las Vegas-based play, written by roommates David Javerbaum '93 and John J. "Chip" Rossetti '93, centers on a beauty pageant at the "Tropicana Pure Premium Casino." According to Javerbaum, who also wrote the show's lyrics, the plot revolves around "Vegas, vanity, vice and Velveeta."

The characters consist mainly of Vegas standbys--gamblers, showgirls and lounge lizards. Among the eight males and eight "females," played by men in drag, are casino-inspired Collier Bluff, Delia Cards and Roland Dice.

Audiences will also be treated to an appearance by Elvis, or at least an Elvis ghost impersonator, according to Rossetti. In fact, the Elvis impersonator is one of the show's main characters.

Las Vegas was chosen as a setting in part because of its potential for a creative set design, said co-producer Lawrence M. Rhein '92. The set, characterized by "mirrors everywhere," will be flashy and sparkly, he said.

Javerbaum said the writing duo was inspired by a figure considered by many to be the very embodiment of Las Vegas--Wayne Newton.

"We were playing Wayne Newton records and decided to create something Wayne could see and really like," he said.

In keeping with the Hasty Pudding tradition, the production will contain "more cheese than Wisconsin," Rossetti said.

Last year's production, "Safari Sagoodi," which mocked 1940s Hollywood, included such characters as Heidi Hydiehydiehi, Shelby Kamanrandamantan and Lyce Camera Action.

Javerbaum and Rossetti began crafting the play last April. They completed it at the end of the summer, with advice from Hasty Pudding Theatricals President Richard M. Claflin '92 and Richard St. Clair '93, who is vice president of the cast.

A team of six Pudding officers selected "Up Your Ante!" from among nine plays submitted. The selection process consisted of reading the plays aloud and considering the creative possibilities for costuming, setting and technical works, according to Rhein.

Co-producer Amy E. Samsel described the annual play-selection process as a "tough choice." She said the committee chose "Up Your Ante!" because "the characters are great."

"It's a really good show," she said.

Auditions for the all-male, 16-member cast will be held from December 6 to 8. The play is scheduled to run from February 18 to March 17.

After a run in Cambridge, the show will make its traditional tour, with stops in New York and Bermuda.

"Up Your Ante!" marks the 144th Hasty Pudding Theatricals production. Although the cast remains all-male, women are involved in other aspects of the show, such as business and set design.

Hasty Pudding productions are always written by Harvard undergraduates, and professionally produced and choreographed, Javerbaum said.

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