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The Hasty Pudding lobby

Hasty Pudding Theatricals, known informally as The Pudding, is a student theatrical society at Harvard University known for its annual burlesque crossdressing musicals as well as its Man and Woman of the Year awards (particularly the roast winners receive at the awards ceremony).[1] The Pudding is the oldest theatrical organization in the United States and the third oldest in the world, behind the Comédie-Française and the Oberammergau Passion Play.[2] Hasty Pudding Theatricals was described by John Wheelwright in 1897 as a "kindly association of men of all ages in a gay evening of simple enjoyment."[3] Its annual production is a musical comedy that often touches on topical social and political issues.


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Today, Hasty Pudding Theatricals is 1 of 3 sub-organizations that comprise the Hasty Pudding - Institute of 1770.[4] The HPI was formed in 1795 as a social club for Harvard College students to "cultivate the social affections and cherish the feelings of friendship & patriotism [...]". Soon after, Pudding members began hosting mock trials on such topics as contemporary Harvard presidents and the study of mathematics. On December 13, 1844, the Pudding put on its first full performance - William Barnes Rhodes’ burlesque opera Bombastes Furioso. After a period of producing popular comedies by established playwrights, student members of the Pudding began to write their own shows, starting in 1882 with a production of Dido and Aeneas by Owen Wister.[5] Since then the Pudding has put on a performance of its own creation every year but 5. The event was interrupted for 2 years during each of the world wars and the fifth time came in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

Women played a role in the company for many years, but primarily as costumers. Then in 1948 Felisa Vanoff (1925–2014) became Pudding’s the first female choreographer[6][7] and in 1978 Diane Nabatoff became its first female producer. In 2009 Megan Amram and Alexandra Petri became the first all-female team to write the musical comedy. The technical crew, band, and business staff has been co-ed for many years.

On January 25, 2018, then-President Amira Weeks announced that the cast would officially go co-ed beginning with the company's 171st production.[8] The Pudding’s France France France Revolution, debuting in February 2019, featured women actors. Under the helm of then-President Grace Ramsey and Cast Vice President David Lynch, the cast was evenly divided, with six men and six women. Furthermore, sticking to Hasty Pudding tradition, the gender of the actor was not necessarily taken into account when casting the show (in fact, 8 of the 12 performers were in drag). The show was well reviewed and since then the cast has been constructed without taking gender into account.[9]

Each spring, the Pudding's Theatricals holds a 5-week run in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then tours to New York City and Bermuda.[10]

Notable alumni

Origins of name

The Hasty Pudding name comes from a Colonial era (originally British) dish called hasty pudding, a kind of porridge made from cornmeal with molasses, honey or other ingredients, a New World cousin to the Italian polenta; called "hasty" because it is cheap and easy to make. It is not clear whether the dish was originally a staple or a dessert, but it is now served for dessert at the banquets thrown by the Pudding, such as opening night celebrations and the annual 'roasts' for their Man/Woman of the Year (see below).

Honorary awards

The society is notable for their annual selection of famous entertainers as Woman of the Year (since 1951) and Man of the Year (since 1967). These awards are usually treated with great seriousness by the honorees, who, since the unanticipated personal appearance of Jane Fonda to accept her award in 1961, always attend the awards ceremony, and are treated to a celebratory "roast," and a parade.

Main article: Hasty Pudding Man of the Year

Main article: Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year


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Over the course of its rich history, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals has adopted many significant symbols. The Hasty Pudding Theatricals has two official logos. The first is a sphinx holding a pudding pot. The second is a pudding pot depicted hanging over a fire. The Hasty Pudding Theatricals' main color is a deep blue; crimson is used due to its ties with Harvard University, green due to its connection with the Harvard Krokodiloes (an all-male a cappella group spun out from the Hasty Pudding company), and yellow for its connection with the Hasty Pudding Club, a social organization on campus from which the Theatricals was founded. The shade of yellow used by the club is an ode to the color of traditional hasty pudding. The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Hasty Pudding Club, and Harvard Krokodiloes are all organizations of the Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 and share the same meeting space and social events on Harvard's campus.

Concordia Discors is the official motto of the Hasty Pudding, literally meaning: Discordant Harmony, or organized chaos, in English.


  1. ^ Yano, Christine R.; Akatsuka, Neal K. Adolph (2018-08-09). Straight A's: Asian American College Students in Their Own Words. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-1-4780-0209-3.
  2. ^ "Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 | Hasty Pudding Theatricals". Retrieved 2018-06-17.
  3. ^ Club, Hasty Pudding; Garrison, Lloyd Mckim (1897). "An Illustrated History of the Hasty Pudding Club Theatricals". Hasty Pudding Club. Retrieved 2014-12-14.
  4. ^ "Hasty Pudding Institute Organizations". The Hasty Pudding - Institute of 1770, Inc. 2021-08-07. Retrieved 2024-01-14. The Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770 comprises the Hasty Pudding Club, The Hasty Pudding Theatricals and the Harvard Krokodiloes.
  5. ^ a b "History". Hasty Pudding Theatricals. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Dagan, Carmel (10 June 2014). "Felisa Vanoff, Dancer, Patron of the Arts, Dies at 89". Variety. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b Brown, Emma S. (25 June 2014). "Obituary: Felisa Vanoff / Groundbreaking dancer and choreographer, June 11, 1924 – May 29, 2014". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  8. ^ Bidgood, Jess (25 January 2018). "After 174 Years, Hasty Pudding Theatricals at Harvard Will Cast Women". New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  9. ^ Saglio, Justin (20 February 2019). "Coed Hasty Pudding makes its debut". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Past Show Titles". Hasty Pudding Theatricals. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
  11. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Dean Norris On Playing Hank On "Breaking Bad" | CONAN on TBS". YouTube.
  12. ^ "History". Alumni. Retrieved February 6, 2010.

42°22′21.2″N 71°7′5.2″W / 42.372556°N 71.118111°W / 42.372556; -71.118111