The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them.
The group was born in December, 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. 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 they created song parodies & skits which conveyed a special brand of satirical humor.
In the years that followed, many of the Steps ignored the conventional wisdom ("Don't quit your day job!"), and although not all of the current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers, taken together the performers have worked in a total of eighteen Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience.
Since they began, the Capitol Steps have recorded over 30 albums, including their latest, What to Expect When You're Electing. They've been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard twice a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during their Politics Takes a Holiday radio specials.You can follow us on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube. And you can contact us here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know more? We have a F.A.Q. page around here somewhere....
Meet the Cast!
"Once more into the cow suit!" will be the title of Brian Ash's autobiography, since his career as a Capitol Step has often required that he wear one (on stage, that is). It was all a logical extension of his bucolic childhood in Wisconsin where he was often seen wearing only a cheesehead. Brian graduated from Brandeis University in 1987 and worked for an online database covering Congressional activities before deciding impersonating Dick Cheney was the correct career path for him.
When not performing, Brian handles production details for all performances of the Capitol Steps from inside Capitol Steps World Headquarters. If you think it's fun to coordinate the flight plans of four touring casts in an election year...then maybe you should consider applying for his position. Big shout out to his wife Darlene, daughter Perrin, and dog Zoe.
Jon Bell is proud to live in a country where every schoolchild is told he can someday grow up to impersonate the nation's first African-American President in a comedy show. After all, his background has prepared him for anything. He's performed all over the Washington area in shows such as Dreamgirls, Crazy for You, Sugar, Finian's Rainbow, and Jesus Christ, Superstar. He's been Bernardo in West Side Story, an educational body puppet, a troll, a pig, Aladdin, a priest, a King, a hare, a giant, and a baby bear. Jon was a lead singer for several seasons at Busch Gardens (not to be confused with George Bush Gardens, which doesn't exist!) and you might have seen him as "screaming fan" in a national Pepsi commercial. Or not. Either way, he's very, very, very, very excited to be in the Steps!
Bari Biern has been Stepping since 1993 and has appeared in several Capitol Steps off-Broadway runs. A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bari has done both feature and training films, narrated audiobooks, reviewed theatre/films for WAMU-FM and freelanced as an off-camera announcer for C-SPAN. You may recall her breathtaking interpretation the announcement, "The Senate will now stand in recess for party lunches." Fans of the video game Star Trek: Legacy will recognize Bari as the voice of T'Uerell, the evil Vulcan scientist. She is a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee as a playwright/lyricist and also writes opera librettos. She's had five successful productions in DC and Philadelphia, including a recent sold-out run of her English adaptation of Abduction from the Seraglio, in which she shifted the story from 18th century Turkey to 19th century Texas. Yee-hah! Someday, Bari hopes to create an opera with a living composer, but she adores collaborating with Mozart, who loves everything she does and never asks for a rewrite!
The NY Times has reported extensively on Bari's bizarre real-life adventures of carrying comedy props through airline security.
Following a brief stint as Arnold Schwarzenegger's body double (this was back when Arnold was in shape), Howard joined the Capitol Steps as staff disciplinarian and pianist. During his tenure with the Steps, he has become particularly adept at laughing heartily at routines he has heard hundreds of times, and, even more spectacularly, not falling asleep during the spoken bits. He is currently working on a book entitled Gyms of Small Town America based on his travels with the Steps. Oh and by the way, he has also been musical director/pianist for Washington, D.C. productions of The Last Five Years, Closer Than Ever, Romance, Romance, A Broadway Christmas Carol and dozens of concerts for the Smithsonian Institution and Everyman Theater in Baltimore.
Mike, or "Mr. Carruthers, sir" as he's known to his friends, was spawned in Detroit and schooled at the Univ. of Maryland in Law Enforcement. He then took the next logical step in any civil force career, and dabbled in musical theatre, also calling on his years of classical training at the "Ivan Bedenov Institute of Russian Ballet." A frustrated dancer turned frustrated actor, he performed many national tours, as well as Hysterium opposite Nipsey Russel in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, at Harrah's in Atlantic City. Other favorite roles include "Tilford the Slug" in PUPA! The Metamorphosis Musical! and in Fats Wallers' lesser known musical, Actually, I AM Misbehavin'. At home, Mike relaxes by staring at bricks and mumbling quietly to himself.
Evan Casey is happy to be a member of the Capitol Steps. Of course, he's also happy for a nice nap, a news segment that involves puppies, and any good anti-itch cream. In addition to giving himself back-handed compliments, he is a surprisingly good actor. You may have seen his halfway-decent work at such DC-area theatres as The Kennedy Center, Ford's Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Round House Theatre, and Olney Theatre Center, among others. What's that? No, you haven't? Well perhaps you've seen him in your own living room on such successful TV programs as TruTV's Missing Persons Unit? Nothing? OK, back to the impressive stuff — he is a graduate of Catholic University, a certified personal trainer, a Helen Hayes Award nominee, and he is skilled in stage combat, which is definitely useful when traveling with the Steps.
Jenny Corbett moved to DC from Chicago, where she studied improv and comedy at the Players Workshop of The Second City and did endless children's theatre productions, including — but not limited to — every single fairytale known to humanity. DC has given her the privilege of working as an actor and a teaching artist with several local theatres such as Rorschach Theatre, Round House Theatre, Imagination Stage, Cherry Red Productions, Alden Theatre and Madcap Players. Jenny currently makes an uproarious living mocking our political leaders (and stupid people in general) in the Capitol Steps.
Kevin is a performer with a considerable reputation around the Washington, DC area. Despite that reputation, the Capitol Steps hired him anyway. His uncanny abilities, expert comic timing, and knack for impersonation were a perfect fit for Capitol Steps (it should be noted that Kevin humbly wrote this bio). He began his career performing in a variety of theatrical productions (Wait Until Dark, Forever Plaid) and films (nothing you would have seen). He loved performing in comedies (Santaland Diaries, Complete Works of William Shakespeare — Abridged). Joining Capitol Steps was his destiny. Since 2000, he's been happily lampooning the people who try to run our country. Kevin has also worked as a teacher of improvisation and physical comedy at DC area theatres. He is a two-time Helen Hayes Awards watcher. The love/wife of his life is Capitol Steps performer Jenny Corbett. Together, they have three wonderful little comedians/children, Lucy, Malcolm, and Caroline.
The Washington Post has more on the the secret lives of Jenny and Kevin Corbett.
Nancy Dolliver started out part-time with The Steps, while working full-time in television production. Production Management duties on shows such as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and for political clients on Capitol Hill often put her in contact by day with the politicians she parodied by night with the Capitol Steps. Fearing that these two careers would one day collide with disastrous consequences, she now works full time with the Steps. She has also appeared as Amy in Company at Signature Theater and starred in American Century Theater's production of Laughter at Ten O'Clock, appearing in skits made famous by her favorite comedienne, Carol Burnett.
Morgan Duncan holds a B.F.A. from Howard University. He has appeared regionally at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC, the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, MN and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR. He has served as a company member of the Washington Stage Guild and on the faculty of the Round House Theatre School. Morgan appeared in the Capitol Steps 2003 production at the Houseman Theater, Between Iraq and a Hard Place.
Mark joined the Capitol Steps in 1993. He worked on Capitol Hill for ten years before leaving for the seamy underbelly of life as a lobbyist. His film credits include "out-of-focus man sitting next to boy eating peach in the distance" in a cable access after-school special. Mark is the most spiritually advanced and intellectually gifted member of the Capitol Steps — he also got to write his own bio.
Janet Davidson Gordon
Too petite for The Rockettes, Janet turned her attention to the theater which led her to The Capitol Steps during the Clinton years in 1993. Wow, nineteen years and counting. She has performed Off-Broadway in the Capitol Steps shows Unzippin' My Doo-Dah and It's Not Over 'til the First Lady Sings, and was cast as Bebe in the 5000th performance of A Chorus Line on Broadway. Other professional roles include Eva Peron in Evita, Ellie Chipley in Showboat, and Val, Sheila, Christine, Maggie, and Bebe in A Chorus Line, but not all at the same time. Janet enjoys collaborating on writing Capitol Steps songs, and she co-wrote Buy, Buy American Pie, which received over 2 million hits on YouTube. So take that, Rockettes.
Corey Harris is one of the newest members of the Capitol Steps, despite the suggestion of many of his friends that he should pursue a movie career as Denzel Washington's better-looking younger brother. He completed his B.A. in Vocal Performance at Hampton University in 2004, and since then he has performed throughout the Washington DC area as well as Paramount Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens Europe, which is actually in Virginia. Corey is trained in Hapkido and Taekwondo, which is very useful whenever the cast is invited to an after-show buffet.
Prince got his Bachelor of Music in Music & Theatre at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music. After graduation, he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he was a featured vocalist with the Air Force group, Moods in Blue. In 1994, he toured with the USO show (even meeting Bob Hope!), and then for twelve years with the Gene Donati Orchestra, performing for congressional dinners and Presidential galas, including the last five official Inaugural Balls for Clinton, Bush and Obama. You might have also heard him singing jingles for Wendy's and American Express. But that wasn't enough! He also performed with the Washington National Opera, under the direction of Placido Domingo. At this point, he was exhausted! So, he took a role where he could close his eyes, and performed the role of Dr. Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon and presidential candidate. Now he is happily performing the role of Barack Obama, where he is able to relax and take long pauses and chalk it up to being "in character."
Anne Willis Hill
Anne Willis Hill has been a member of the Capitol Steps since 1987. Her loves (in addition to her family) include music and politics, and the Capitol Steps have provided the perfect wedding! Anne received her Bachelor's and Master's in Vocal Performance from Temple University's College of Music. She began her career on Capitol Hill in 1981 working for Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-FL) on the Senate Committee on Aging(!), the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee(!), and the Senate Budget Committee (!) Anne retired herself temporarily from the Hill in 1995 and returned in 2007. Anne is the rare Capitol Step who has been able to cling with dignity to her day job.
Marc Irwin's Broadway credits include The Rink, Sunday in the Park with George, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Romance Romance, City Of Angels, Crazy For You, Cats, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood and A Doll's Life. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Marc was assistant conductor for Merrily We Roll Along, and assistant musical director for Bells Are Ringing, Where's Charlie?, Purlie, and Merrily We Roll Along. Marc Irwin was sound designer and keyboardist for Harry Belafonte for five years and has conducted for The Three Mo' Tenors.
His jazz CD releases include Crossings of the Spirit, A Child's Play, Urbnergy, Handmade Music, Three of a Kind, and A Few Moments More. Despite being a highly educated musician who holds a doctorate in musical composition from Peabody University, Dr. Marc Irwin has spent the past 16 years with the Capitol Steps. All of this has prepared him to play every song in the show in every key possible — and also some in modes not previously heard in western music — in order to accommodate the "preferences" of the singers in the cast.
Important events in Dave's Life:
1955 born in Scotland
1963 learned to play piano and compose
1965 emigrated to US
1970 learned to play jazz
1973 finally got a date — didn't get another one until 1976
1975 moved to DC
1981 joined the Opera House Orchestra of the Kennedy Center, wrote first film score
1989 released first original CD
1991 started playing with National Symphony Orchestra
1992 defeated Russian Chess Grandmaster Leonid Shamkovitch in a game later published in Chess Life Magazine
1996 joined the Capitol Steps
1998 closed down Denver Airport
2003 adopted first child
2005 adopted 2nd child
2005 brain remnants studied by NIH
Emily is the newest member of the Capitol Steps but despite her tender age has compiled an acting resume which includes shows at the Kennedy Center, Signature Theater, and Imagination Stage, with roles as diverse as a dog, a bear, and, several times, a human being. She's performed in many local cabarets, where she does an impressive impression of herself. Emily is the only member of the Capitol Steps who plays the ukulele and can perform a cartwheel, although not simultaneously.
A founding member of the Capitol Steps, Elaina has been with the group since 1981 (for those of you trying to figure out her age, she began as an ovum). Elaina worked for seven years on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Assistant to Senator Charles Percy and then, after his untimely defeat, for Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who was also defeated. Although she has worked for two Republicans, Elaina considers herself an extreme moderate, and although she is married to a former Clinton appointee, she denies responsibility for having caused any of the scandals which later became song material.
Elaina interviewed by Prince of Petworth. Find out for which presidents the Capitol Steps have performed.
Richard Paul started hanging around with the Capitol Steps in 1982, about 45 minutes after they got started. He joined the group in 1985, back before you had to, like, audition for a job. At the time, he worked for the Senate Labor and Human Resources Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism, and was therefore able to brag of having the biggest and longest business card in Congress. He performed all the great Capitol Steps roles of the early 1980's like ... oh, go check Wikipedia, they're all there. Today he is an author (with a book coming out in early 2013) and a documentary producer and still manages to drag his geriatric butt over to Capitol Steps shows where he likes to regale the young wipper-snappers with stories of his glory days. He still can't figure out where they all go when he does that.
Jack began squinting his eyes to play Donald Rumsfeld for the Capitol Steps in 2001 and has never looked back. Since then he has received rave reviews for his performances, especially since he looks like the love child of Rod Blagojevich and Mitt Romney. The Washington Post called him "kinda pretty," and in Blog the Berkshires he was referred to as "the heartthrob of the Capitol Steps playing an hysterically funny everybody else in the world of politics." He performed in Between Iraq and a Hard Place at the Houseman Theater in New York City in 2003. Jack would like to thank his mother for allowing him to stay up late to watch the Presidential debates at the tender age of five.
Ann Margaret Schmitt
Ann Margaret Schmitt made her stage debut at the ripe old age of four. Favorite roles include Electra in Gypsy, Helene in Sweet Charity, Peggy in Godspell and Nita in Captain's Paradise. She appeared in the NBC-TV movie Murder in Music City and has enjoyed singing the National Anthem at Giants' Stadium and Madison Square Garden. She has appeared Off-Broadway several times with the Capitol Steps and in other productions. In a review from Variety of the Off-Broadway production It Ain't Over Till the First Lady Sings it reads, "...Ann possesses a better singing voice than many musical-comedy performers residing on Broadway."
Emily Bell Spitz
Emily Bell Spitz is a musical director and accompanist in the Washington area. She received her Masters of Music in Musical Theatre Direction from Arizona State University and has worked for many area theatres and dance companies in addition to accompanying the Capitol Steps. In collaboration with fellow Stepper Bari Biern, she has written two children's musicals which have been performed in Washington, DC.
Tracey works full time (12 years and counting) as a company member/Sarah Palin/Hillary Clinton/Laura Bush/Kim Jong Il performer with the Capitol Steps. She has four Off-Broadway credits with the Steps, along with a another off-Broadway run of Tails: The Musical, one of her proudest moments as a four-legged show-dog! She was last seen as 13-plus characters in Metro Stage's production of Broadway Christmas Carol and before that...improving with the very own Groundlings in LA. She has worked in many regional theaters, dinner theaters, cruise boats, wedding bands, touring companies, and the fast-food chain Wendy's. She prides herself with knowing that people get her confused with Kristin Chenoweth, Tina Fey, and one of the "little people" from Wizard of Oz.
Mike Thornton (aka "Thor") has had the honor of playing all of the presidents since Reagan, even Obama: "I know what you're thinking... I look more Italian in person!" A professional Actor, Singer and Director since 1979, Mike joined the Steps in 1997. While full-time with the Steps, Mike has squeezed in jazz singing (www.mikethorntonjazz.com), directing, and producing (Cap Steps: Supper Club, NYC; Harvard University; "Swing Time:The Musical" — an ongoing swing revue, and many others!). Mike has also been the Artistic Director for three professional theatres: The Mohawk Theatre Guild in the Berkshires; Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania; and the Impala Theatre Company in Arlington, Virginia. Above all else, Mike helped produce his daughters, Fosse and Tess, and is giddily, ecstatically happy with his wife, Cecilia, in Washington, DC.
Equally at home performing Shakespeare in London as musical comedy in Atlantic City, Brad was chosen by Playbill on-line as the best featured actor in a musical for the Capitol Steps Off-Broadway at the Houseman Theatre. His favorite roles are Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Vernon in They're Playing Our Song and Leo in Chapter Two. In addition to work in commercials, T.V. and film, Brad is an accomplished director and has the freakish ability to move his eyebrows and ears independently.
Delores King Williams
Delores King Williams is thrilled to enter her 12th year with the Capitol Steps! A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Delores is equally at home in theatrical productions as well as concert settings. Some favorite performances include: international appearances at the North Sea, Montreux, and Vienne Jazz Festivals, a concert tour of Egypt with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, performances at the White House and Carnegie Hall, Off-Broadway runs with the Capitol Steps, an Australian tour of Porgy and Bess with the Washington National Opera, and her annual Christmas concert at the Kennedy Center.
She is a winner of a Downbeat magazine award, an Audie award for audio book narration, a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition, a winner of the "Billie Holiday Vocal Competition," and a former soloist for the United States Army Band. And now as a Capitol Step she is proud to put on a pig costume and go on stage to sing about swine flu.
Lenny Williams is an Emmy-award winning composer who accompanies the Capitol Steps in spite of this fact. We know he doesn't need the money but by his own account, "needs to get out more," and playing for the Steps is the perfect opportunity to get away from that high-brow artistic stuff once in a while.
Jamie has been with the Capitol Steps since 1994. Before joining the Steps, James appeared as "Gaston" in the National tour of Gigi, and as "Aristede" in Can Can, at Harrah's in Atlantic City with the New York City Rockettes. Other roles in his career have included "Jesus" in JC Superstar, "The Pirate King" in The Pirates of Penzance, and "Henry Higgins" in My Fair Lady, which is where he met his wife, Jeanne, who was "Eliza"!