The Hasty Pudding Theatricals (HPT) is the oldest theatrical organization in the United States, comprised of 50 Harvard undergraduates. Since its first performance in 1844, the Pudding has developed into a world-class production with a full six-week tour in Cambridge, New York City, and Bermuda. To this day, the pun-filled comedy musical extravaganza is entirely written, performed, and produced by students.
Some of America’s most prominent luminaries were first made famous by wearing drag on the Pudding stage, such as William Randolph Hearst, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Jack Lemmon (training for his famous role in Some Like it Hot). Ultimately, 50 students work together in the cast, band, tech crew, and business staff to stage a 35-show run in Cambridge, with additional dates in New York City and Bermuda. The Pudding has been prominent in the Boston theater scene for hundreds of years.
The Pudding show has a long tradition of daring social and political commentary, never shying away from controversial current topics. Even early on, no one was safe from jabs from the Pudding authors, even their very own benefactors. By 1890, supporting the Pudding had become an official social cause among such patronesses as Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Mrs. Robert Winthrop, and Mrs. JL Gardener etc. But in 1910, John Reed, a senior, wrote the show Diana’s Debut which was a daring satire of the Boston Elite. The next year, The Crystal Gazer targeted the nouveaux riches. In 1913, the Panama Canal was the subject of Panamania. In 1919, the Pudding produced a show parodying the Russian Revolution, Clowns and Crowns—it was the most topical show to date (and for which the Pudding received threatening anonymous letters). In 1938, So Proudly we Hail mocked Hitler and Mussolini, two years before Charlie Chaplin’s Dictator.
But, although unafraid to tackle themes as strong as revolution, labor strikes, and class struggles, the Pudding never takes itself too seriously, consistently delighting audiences with uproarious antics and questionable puns.
By supporting the Hasty Pudding, you affirm your own commitment to freedom of expression and ensure that the tradition of satire and social commentary endures and is passed along to new generations.