Capitol Steps at Cranwell Resort: Putting the mock in democracy
LENOX --- The Capitol Steps' casts of five actors and a pianist seem to move in and out of the basement theater at Cranwell's Olmstead Manor faster than a speeding bullet, in a manner of speaking. And it has been fascinating, over the last two weeks, to watch and hear two different teams of players -- all boasting about "putting the mock in democracy" -- delivering what is virtually the same material in remarkably different manners of personal approach and inflection.
The song lyric parodies and the lines of interlocutory patter are written by Elaina Newport, the show's producer, and Mark Eaton, but cast members also have certain licenses in script amendment, and this makes a difference in performances.
The group on stage Saturday evening was among the best ensembles I've seen over several years of Stepper watching. First seen two years ago, Jon Bell, a tall gangling gentleman who moves very well, especially as Barack Obama -- with all the president's halting speech patterns to gather his thoughts, and his poking hand gestures to make certain points -- now bears touches of gray in his presidential wig to reflect the rigors-of-office, as we suggested should happen two years ago.
Bell also proves a fine tourist minister of Iraq, president of Greece, Keith Richards, and a fair Marco Rubio.
The delight of the show was Kevin Corbett, a stand-up natural who made not only a splendid Joe Biden, Jay Carney, Mitch McConnell -- complete with trembling chin -- as well as the N.R.A. rifleman and the T.S.A. airport groper, he produced a truly funny "Lirty Dies," the group's customary wacky spoonerism monologue that always seems to make hilarious sense. His timing, and sensitivity to audience reaction are impeccable.
Evan Casey fit well into a number of roles, including the all-purpose Pope Francis, and also Queen Elizabeth with Kate Middleton (Jenny Corbett) and the new royal offspring. But Casey and others in this skit must remember that the Queen always totes that white purse, its handle attached to one arm.
Felicia Curry, also admired two years ago, returned as a marvelous hooded undocumented immigrant with a surprise for the border guard, and as a nurse explaining unheard-of Obamacare benefits.
Tying the show together, Howard Breitbart once more proved how much color one can pull from a humble Kurtzweil keyboard, and the extraordinary hilarity he continues to discover in parodies he's doubtlessly seen and heard hundreds of times.
The wonderful paean to Antonin Scalia, set to the melody of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "Maria," heard last year, was revived in an earlier performance this month by Janet Davidson Gordon and Delores King Williams as Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Gordon also tendered a convincing Nancy Pelosi who almost could blink, and a superb Hillary Clinton in the number "Lie, Lie, Lie."
So whatever the topic, whether it be the foibles of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, an imagined gay marriage of Harry Reid and McConnell or the contraception pill, the Capital Steppers are on it, as long, they point out, as it can rhyme. And it's fun, and instructive sometimes, to hear it all coming out of different mouths in repeated visits.
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