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Comedy: The Capitol Steps

By P.F. Wilson · October 19th, 2009 · CityBeat Recommends

Elaine Newport arrived in Washington, D.C. in the early ’80s to be a legislative assistant to Illinois Republican Senator Chuck Percy. The piano major thought her primary course of study in college wouldn’t come in very handy. That was until a Christmas party in 1981 when she and several coworkers decided to provide some entertainment for the event. “We thought we’d do this once for a Christmas party and be told to stop, or be fired, or both,” she recalls. “But 27 years later no one has stopped us, so we’re still going.” And The Capitol Steps were born.

Performance experience was scant in the group. “A lot of people had just sung in the shower,” Newport says. “Over the years we have added people that have actual training. Very quickly we met a woman from Senator (Bob) Stafford’s office who had a really good voice and a master’s (degree) in Voice, so there’s all sorts of people on the hill.” Today there are many “Steps,” but only five perform in any given show, along with a pianist. Of course the greatest challenge for the troupe is delivering humor that is non-partisan, something that can be difficult. “You want to get both sides,” Newport says. “Throughout our history there have been times that that’s (been) harder. The party in power is always funnier.” The Capitol Steps perform 7:30 p.m. at Music Hall. $27.50.

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