The Hasty Pudding Theatricals’ annual awards always lift one’s spirits during the North American winter. This year, the oldest theatrical organization (dating back to 1770) in the US has named actress, producer and director Elizabeth Banks its Woman of the Year.
Banks follows Bryce Dallas Howard (2019) and Mila Kunis (2018), and is the 70th woman to receive the honour.
The Pudding, as the Harvard University theatrical student society is also known, bestows a separate Man of the Year award as well, in a newer programme that has seen just over 50 honourees.
The awards are given to those who have made ‘lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment’.
The honouree is paraded through the streets of Cambridge, Mass., followed by a roast at Farkas Hall in Harvard Square, then she faces a number of on-stage challenges to earn her ‘Pudding Pot’.
In Banks’s case, as detailed by the society: ‘First, HPT challenged Ms Banks by having her sing “Ice Ice Baby” as a member of the “Sockapellas”, referencing her work in the Pitch Perfect franchise. Following her serenade, she bravely faced Beezel the Cat from Movie 43 in a sword fight, eventually taking down the villain with a cat toy. Afterward, in a display of medical knowledge gained from her time as a doctor on Scrubs, Ms Banks saved a patient dying from lack of culture by delivering a Shakespearean monologue. Next, Ms Banks, an avid fantasy football player, defeated a knight and dragon from the Fantasy Football Kingdom who had stolen her trophy. In her final task, reenacting her scene in Wet Hot American Summer, Ms Banks took a bite of an Impossible Burger and planted on a kiss on a Hasty Pudding cast member masquerading as Paul Rudd. Ultimately, Ms Banks was graciously awarded her Pudding Pot. Upon receiving her award, the smiling honouree said, “I want to thank the Hasty Pudding Theatricals for this exceedingly fun experience today.”’
After a press conference, the society performed numbers from its upcoming production, Mean Ghosts.
The Man of the Year event takes place on February 7, when Mean Ghosts will also première. Tickets for the production are available now, and can be ordered through 1 617 495-5205 or www.hastypudding.org/buy-tickets. Mean Ghosts runs to March 8 at Farkas Hall, followed by March 13 and 14 at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, and from March 18 to 20 at Hamilton City Hall in Bermuda.