The Capitol Steps at Cranwell
Theatre Review by Larry Murray and Pearce Rowley
In the real world, our current slash and burn politics are deadly serious with few exceptions. The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is one of those rare occasions when elected officials and the media can laugh at themselves. In the media, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, and Lewis Black regularly elicit laughs, while the other television talking heads send viewers on a search for headache relief.
The Capitol Steps are a musical revue that mines American politics, and have been doing so for more than 35 years. The story goes that it began at a Christmas party in Senator Charles Percy’s office, and like most Congressional activities, they just don’t know when to stop.
Of course there is lots of humor in politics. And for years, The Capitol Steps have been mining it.
2016 may offer the troupe its richest source of material ever. With a billionaire buffoon, a yiddish socialist and an ambitious, anointed former first lady as their primary targets, the stage is set.
With a fearless and talented quintet of refugees from our nation’s capitol, the performers – with nothing more than a few props – turn our current politics on its head. If only the nightly newscast was half as funny. There are several Capitol Steps troupes criss-crossing the country at any given time; in Lenox, the company has settled into a new performing space at Cranwell. So new in fact, you can still detect the new-car-smell of turps and sawdust.
The cast is Mike Caruthers, Kevin Corbett, Morgan Duncan, Emily Levey and Delores Williams. They are accompanied by hardworking keyboardist Marc Irwin.
No sooner had the house lights dimmed, than the political roller coaster ride began. The audience was in for a wild ride, only they would be laughing instead of gasping. The reason: almost immediately Bernie and Hillary were vying for our votes. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump’s ego showed up. Not once. But whenever there was an opportunity to show off. The same might be said for Barack Obama who never missed an opportunity to over-explain himself.
No political poo-poo platter would be complete without Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush and Joe Biden. And let’s not forget about Bill Clinton, he’s not ready to be consigned to oblivion. While the main targets were the pols and pundits, a satirical twist on policies such as the border wall elicited some of the biggest guffaws of the evening. No spoilers here.
The songs themselves are parodies of familiar pop and show tunes, for example, “The Leader is a Trump” and Bernie Sanders singing “If There Were No Rich Men”. The audience at Cranwell was unexpectedly mixed with brown and gold among the blue and grey hairs. Some of the younger crowd were clearly required to attend by their parents, but quickly fell into the spirit of the performance. Based on this observation, The Capitol Steps can be recommended for the whole family.
The Capitol Steps at Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort, July 1- September 3, 2016, nightly at 8pm except Tuesday. Box Office 413-881-1636.