Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

July 23, 2011

Capitol Steps 2011

Cranwell Resort, Lenox, MA
through September 3, 2011
by Shera Cohen

It should be no surprise that In the Spotlight’s reviews of Capitol Steps tend to be repetitive. Year after year, it’s the same show, format, music, and usually the same ensemble. But, this is a good thing, a very good thing. Take a solid production template and tweak it with new material and Capitol Steps can be enjoyed again and again.

Past Spotlight reviews (written by this critic) included adjectives and accolades like: satirical, humorous, irreverent, lively, hilarious, energetic, and a treat. The quintet of comedians/singers (3 men, 2 women) and one pianist give a 90-minute, non-stop, laugh-a-thon on news headlines, primarily focusing on happenings in DC (thus, Capitol Steps). No one is safe from salacious lyrics set to familiar Broadway and pop music tunes. Donned in cheesy costumes and wigs, the actors do their best to look like Obama, Hillary, Bill, Joe, and Sarah. Immediately and “magically” they transpose into Quadafi, Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, various Cabinet members, and all of the current Republican Party candidates. Yes, all…the actors take dual roles.

The topics are predictable in dozens of mini-scripts: the national debt, the Tea Party, airport pat downs, tree huggers, and homeland security. The troupe laughs at the audience and vice versa. There are just too many songs to remember, but “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea” (think “Sound of Music”) is an example. Every show ends with a hilariously long monologue by one of the quintet. He essentially speaks backwards, juxtaposing letters, in fast motion. With twisted malaprops (isn’t that redundant?), it takes a keen ear to catch every joke. Yet, when it seems nearly impossible to understand this speedy repartee, it’s ultimately clear and very, very funny.

Things are simple at a CS show: the set is a backdrop of the logo, the stage is an elevated platform, the room is a large windowless basement, the seats provide poor sight lines, but on a 90 degree day it’s pleasantly air-conditioned. Forgive and forget the amenities of which there are next to none. Just as the news changes daily, Capitol Steps is the show to see repeatedly.