President Obama campaign contributor Annette Bening and her director husband Warren Beatty had hoped to use a trip to Washington, D.C., to catch up on their sleep. But it was not to be, as they told guests at British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald’s private Saturday night dinner in the actress’ honor.

The couple decided to leave their four children, who range in age from 10 to 18, at home to rest up before the weekend party double-header to celebrate Bening’s little-known love of Shakespeare. What the usually politically active couple hadn’t counted on was the gathering early Saturday morning of the Progressive “One Nation Working Together” march. Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Washington chanting and cheering just outside the windows of their Willard Hotel suite en route to the Lincoln Memorial for four hours of speeches, poetry and music to counter Tea Party conservatives.

This story first appeared in the October 5, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“They woke us up,” Beatty said at the Saturday dinner at the ambassador’s residence the night before Bening received the Shakespeare Theatre’s William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre at the Harman Center. On Sunday night, Bening, in a black cocktail Alberta Ferretti dress, dazzled guests with a spellbinding, impromptu recitation from “Romeo and Juliet.” Later, at the Gala Shakespearissimo!’ celebration at the National Building Museum, she admitted any encores may be a long time coming, though. “I did Shakespeare as a kid,” said Bening, sitting with Shakespeare Theatre artistic director Michael Kahn, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews, along with his Marriott executive wife, Kathleen. “It’s been a while and for now, I don’t have any plans to do it again,” Bening said, adding diplomatically, if not somewhat unconvincingly, “But I hope to.” — Susan Watters

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