The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, May. 20, 2022

Capitol Steps bite the hand that fed them

Van Wert independent/NPAC information

Thirty years ago, Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them. In the years that followed, many of the Steps members ignored the conventional wisdom (“don’t quit your day job!”), and although not all of the current group members are former Capitol Hill staffers, taken together the performers have worked in a total of 18 Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience. On March 24, the Steps come to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio in Van Wert for one great night of laughs.

The Capitol Steps

Since it began, the Capitol Steps has recorded over 30 albums, including its latest, Desperate House members, and special holiday release, Barackin’ Around the Christmas Tree. The group has been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard four times a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during its “Politics Takes a Holiday” radio specials.

Capitol Steps was born in December 1981 when some staffers for U.S. Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Ronald Reagan was President when the Steps began, so co-founders Elaina Newport, Bill Strauss and Jim Aidala figured that if entertainers could become politicians, then politicians could become entertainers! Their first idea was to stage a nativity play, but in the whole Congress they couldn’t find three wise men or a virgin! So they decided to dig into the headlines of the day and created song parodies and skits conveying a special brand of satirical humor that is as popular in Peoria as it is on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Most cast members have worked on Capitol Hill; some for Democrats, some for Republicans and others for politicians who firmly straddle the fence. No matter who holds office, there’s never a shortage of material. Says Elaina Newport: “Typically the Republicans goof up, and the Democrats party, then the Democrats goof up and the Republicans party. That’s what we call the two-party system.”

Although Capitol Steps is based in Washington, D.C., most of its shows are out-of-town or for out-of-town audiences, whether it’s the National Welding Supply Association, a university audience, high schoolers or state legislators. In fact, the Capitol Steps have performed for the last five Presidents (six, if you include Hillary). The only complaints the Steps seem to get are from politicians and personalities who are not included in the program!

The material is updated constantly. Current examples include the Tea Party’s colorful invasion into the political spectrum (“Fun, Fun, Fun, ’til Obama Takes Our Tea Bags Away”) and the Democrats’ plan to defeat the deficit (“Return to Spenders”). In addition, Capitol Steps offer its own take on such trending topics as the TSA pat-downs, Facebook and illegal immigration, according to Arizonians! No matter who or what is in the headlines, one can bet the Capitol Steps will tackle both sides of the political spectrum and all things equally foolish. What more would one expect from the group that puts the “mock” in Democracy!

Tickets are now on sale for $30 and available at the box office of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, 10700 Ohio 118 in Van Wert, by phone at 419.238.NPAC (6722) or online at www.npacvw.org.

Box-office hours after the New Year’s Day holiday are Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m.

For more information about this or other NPAC presentations, contact the box office, visit the website or find the NPAC on Facebook.

POSTED: 12/30/11 at 1:07 am. FILED UNDER: News