Capitol Steps: Desperate Housemembers, with lyrics by Elaina Newport, Mark Eaton and the cast.
Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
"...send a Fox News crew...under the sea."
History lessons arenít always easy to learn, but when youíre face to face (or as it might be said in the Capitol Steps Lirty Dies monologue - face to face) with the ugly truths of contemporary history presented in a little quirky song, you learn quickly how our biggest mistakes can be our finest cabaret fodder. You learn that an election isnít just a universal choice as much as it is a pathway to double entendre. You find out that a disgraced politician has a life to lead on the west coast doing day work in a mini-spa and making penetrating in-roads with romantic cleaning women. You discover that, once and for all, our leaders never die, they just go on book-signing tours where they sometimes (God Forbid!) read from their oeuvre.
You learn much more than all this at a performance of Capitol Steps, appearing again this summer, nightly except for Tuesdays, at Cranwell Resort in Lenox, MA. From 8:05 until 9:35 each evening you laugh until you agree to change political parties. I laughed so hard and so often that I forgot to write anything down and had to buy the album just to write this review. These are funny people in educationally amusing material, changing costumes, looks, voices, makeup and even - it seemed to me - eye colors in the twinkle of one of those eyes. If youíve seen this act before you may recognize a few of their older pieces, although it seems to me that even those undergo alterations to bring them into the most current point of view. In fact, a few of them are so universal they appear to be new and current even without a changed word or phrase.
The cast I saw on Sunday night will probably not be the cast you see when you go, but Iíve never seen or heard a performance from this group that wasnít top-notch so thereís little to worry about. I will name names in this review, but you enjoy whomever you get to see.
Corey Harris not only is a devastating President Obama he makes the most of his other roles as well. In Hotel Arizona he plays a racially stereotyped individual with a historic right to his space. It is a funny sight-gag that clues in one of the best lyrics of the night.
Kevin Corbett is just a funny man with a way with words. His perfect take on Bill Clinton is matched by his perfect take-off on Donald Trump. His delivery is solid and sly at the same time and his wife, Jenny Corbett is his match in every way. Whether playing Judge Sotomayor, Christine OíDonnell or any number of oddly amusing women including a marine recruit in the number "Ballad of the Queen Berets."
Jack Rowles is the heart-throb of the company playing an hysterically funny everybody else in the world of politics. His performance of "Memoirs" the book-tour advert for former President George W. Bushís collection of stories from the oval office is hilarious. Unlike the real G.W., you just donít want him to leave the platform.
One of the funniest sketches in the show has Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg on line for the only ladies room in the area of the supreme court. Bari Biern plays Ginsberg and she is unbelievably brilliant in the robes and the role. She and Jenny Corbett make the work as memorable as Biernís take on Sarah Palin makes that woman so very inevitable. Better than Tina Fey, Biernís Palin is a remarkable tour-de-force.
Getting tickets for this show can be like registering to vote - it must be done no matter what it takes. You donít want to miss an opportunity to let your laugh be heard, to make it count.
Capitol Steps will be playing at Cranwell Resort on Route 20 at the Lenox and Lee border through September 3. For information and tickets call the box office at 413-881-1636.
How The Other Half Loves continues its performances at the Ghent Playhouse, Town Hall Place in Ghent, NY, through Sunday, April 6. For information and tickets contact the playhouse at 1-800-838-3006 or ghentplayhouse.org.