Who better to make fun of politicians and their staffs than actual Congressional staff members? That's the idea behind "Capitol Steps," a comedy troupe formed 17 years ago that finally reached Off-Broadway Feb. 5, 1997 at the John Houseman Theatre. Originally intended to close March 23, Capitol Steps extended through June of that year, due to "strong audience demand and critical reception."
Recently the troupe "Stepped" back into the John Houseman Theatre, starting performances July 9 for a run ending Sept. 5. The new edition, which officially opened July 15, is titled "Unzippin' My Doo `Dah" and pokes fun at President Clinton's personal woes, among other political targets.
There are now more than 20 members of "Capitol Steps," with five performing at one time while the others are in rotation. Company members include founding members Bill Strauss and Elaina Newport (aides for Republican Senator Charles Percy), Ann Schmitt (for Republican Senator William Roth), Jamie Zemarel (for Republican Congressman, Harris Fawell), Barie Biern (for Democrat Henry Waxman), and Mike Tilford of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The comedy troupe formed when Strauss and Newport were asked to entertain at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Christmas party. "Unable to find three wise men or a virgin for a nativity play, they decided to dig into the week's headlines and hot topics... Since then, they've been performing in Washington and around the country, satirizing the people...that once employed them." Their output includes 16 records, four released during the Clinton administration. Recent recordings include "Return To Center," "The Joy Of Sax," "A Whole Newt World," and "76 Bad Loans." Song parodies include "Return To Center (Viewpoint Unknown)" directed at President Clinton, and "Yasser, That's My Bibi," a duet for Yasser Arafat and Bibi Netanyahu.
An evening of musical comedy, Capitol Steps changes nightly to keep up with the news. For tickets and information call Tele-Charge at (212) 239-6200. --By David Lefkowitz