It’s another election year, and that’s a bonanza for the Capitol Steps, the singing satirists from D.C. who will take the stage at the Fox Tucson Theatre next month in a benefit performance for the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation.
“That will be a fun time because that will be the height of the Democratic primaries,” says Elaina Newport, one of the founding members of the group, which got its start in 1981 when some Senate staffers were planning entertainment for a holiday party.
“Right now we’re opening the show with a song called ‘76 Unknowns,’” which is adjusted “on the fly” as the parade of Democratic candidates changes, says Newport, who is counting on Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and “Good Old Joe” Biden to still be in the race.
But not to worry, the Steps are equal opportunity offenders, mocking politicians on both sides of the aisle.
“A lot of the show is about Trump. He takes a lot of the headlines because the party in power is always grabbing the headlines — especially him,” Newport says. Vice President Mike Pence has a song, and senators take their fair share of ribbing, from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to Mitch McConnell, with the impending impeachment trial of the president giving the Steps more opportunities for fast and furious re-writes.
As for global leaders, Newport promises that a shirtless Vladimir Putin will grace the stage at the Fox on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. “And the guys in our group do not work out, so this is interesting,” she says.
Putin’s song about Russian interference in U.S. elections has been in the show since 2016 and is still relevant for 2020, Newport says. Other songs don’t last as long. “The most famous short-lived song was ‘Scaramucci’ a year and a half ago, that lasted two weeks.
“It’s a very weird way to make a living because when we get up in the morning and we hear the news, we don’t think is this good for the country or bad for the country, we think is it funny, what rhymes with this, and do we lose a song over it,” she says.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be among the cast of characters for the Tucson show, with Queen Elizabeth II putting in an appearance in a “Brexit” song.
“At one point I was told it was more costume changes than a Cher concert!” Newport says.
The Steps have appeared on “Good Morning America,” the “Today Show,” “20/20,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Nightline,” CNN’s “Inside Politics,” and frequently on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” They’ve also recorded dozens of albums — more albums than the Constitution has amendments, as they like to note — including their latest, “The Lyin’ Kings” (2019).
Amy Brannock, UArizona Hillel vice chair, is co-chair of the event with fellow board member Alex Stuchen. “This is our big annual fundraiser, the funds from which allow us to keep offering wonderful programming for our students at no cost to them,” says Brannock. “It’s a win-win for all — come enjoy a fabulous show while helping support the work of Hillel!”
For special event ticket packages, contact Hillel at 624-6561 or visit www.uahillel.org. For general admission tickets, contact the Fox Tucson Theatre at 547-3040 or visit www.foxtucson.com.