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A CurtainUp Berkshires Review
The Capitol Steps 30th Anniversary Edition

The fich and ramous are getting into trig bubble everylair you wook. And in every wine of lurk. We're the stapital Keps, so of course we tend to focus on the Pearled of Wolitics. And blieve me, there are plenty of plandals there.
— A sample of the Lirty Dies routine that tops off every performance of the former DC staffers who've turned their comic sendup of Capitol Hill scandals into a successful franchise that's celebrating its 30th birthday.
The Capitol Steps' run as a comedy franchise focusing on the world of politics— mostly the scandalous kind of which there's no shortage has reached the 30-year mark. Curtainup has been following them since 1997, first Off-Broadway where they used to make annual appearances, and more recently during their summer engagements at the Cranwell Resort in Lenox. While their targets change to accommodate the latest world leaders in the limelight, "Lirty Dies," a Pig Latin routine for grownups invented by Capitol Steppers Elaina Newport and Bill Strauss, is every edition's hallmark finale. Audiences never seem to tire of the hilarious re-juxtaposition of word initials built around harmony, alliteration and innuendo.

The DC staffers who quit their straight arrow careers to spoof national and international people in the limelight have also created a profitable sideline of CD's of their riffs done to the tune of instantly recognized show numbers which the performers sell at the end of each show. The group has expanded considerably over the years and the latest update of their songstick featured just one performer I've seen before, Mike Tilford. This Capitol Steps veteran is as fresh and funny as ever and brought his own style to the " Lirty Dies" finale.

Each show has a something old and something new mix of performers. Felicia Curry was the delightful something new the on board when I attended. After the anticipated arrival of a Barack Obama interpreter (Jon Bell) with a take on his Twitter Town Hall meeting, Curry bounced on stage with a bang. She didn't have to look like Sarah Palin to be memorably Palinesque. Besides doing Paiin twice, Curry was a standout whatever she did and whoever she pretended to be.

Other characters emerging from behind the Capitol Steps imprinted shade included the President's second in command, various presidential hopefuls, Supreme Court Judges Ruth Bader Ginsberg had a Ladies' Room interchange with newbie Sonia Sotomayor. Ann Johnson's funniest bit was as Nancy Pelosi. Not surprisingly, the unfortunately named (except as a comedic target) ex-representative Anthony Weiner came in for his share of ribbing. International figures like Lybia's embattled Muammar Qaddafi and Egypt's falledn Hosni Mubarak.

Naturally 90-minutes of non-stop funny business accompanied by speedy wig and costume switches, are unlikely to be non-stop hilarious. Still, while not e very skit sends the audience into gales of laughter, each of the five jokesters does get at least one big belly laugh number.

Though Cranwell is an elegant resort, and the Olmsted building is a handsome residential complex, don't expect a state-of-the-art theater. The Steps are, as they have been in past years, steps below ground level. The room set aside for their show is large but the rows of straight-backed chairs are all on one level — not an ideal for good sightlines for all viewers. It would be a good idea to arrive early enough to be as close to the handkerchief sized stage as possible.

No review of this summer's Capitol Steps edition woul be complete without a special shout-out for pianist Howard Breitbart. As his program biography states, he's not only an expert pianist but "has become particularly adept at laughing heartily at routine he has heard hundreds of times, and, even more spectacularly, not falling asleep during the spoken bits."

Capital Steps
Cranwell Resort, Lenox, MA 413-881-1636
From July 2 to September 3, 2011
Shows nightly at 8pm except Tuesday
Tickets $49 (Capital Steps participates in the Berkshires 1/2 price TIX
90 minutes without an inermission
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer on July 20th
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