On Stage

The Capitol Steps

Hilarity from the hill


What: The Capitol Steps

When: 3 pm Sun., Nov. 4

Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

Cost: $30-$50

Info: http://www.mountbakertheatre.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Mike Thornton, the bewigged fella who portrays Donald Trump in the Capitol Steps’ song “Wake Me Up in Mar-A-Lago,” doesn’t put as much spit-spewing vitriol into the role as actor Alec Baldwin does when he’s mocking the leader of the free world on Saturday Night Live, but he does a stellar job of bringing the president’s general cluelessness to light.

During the satirical sketch and song, the subject matter focuses on everything from the “great” things Trump says he’s accomplished (pardoning former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, saving Puerto Rico, pulling the United States out of the “nasty” Paris Climate Accord), to the things that continue to vex him and get in his way (Elizabeth Warren, the NFL, Obamacare, the United States Constitution, etc.).

Possibly the truest line of the parody comes when the character talks about getting rid of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “I’m going to fire him because that’s what I do,” Thornton-as-Trump says. “That’s what keeps people watching my show, The Presidency.”

While laughing about the fractured state of Trump’s weird world may not seem like the best idea in the days before the country’s midterm elections, rest assured that when the Capitol Steps bring their politically inspired satire and musical comedy to Bellingham for a Sun., Nov. 4 performance of “Make America Grin Again” at the Mount Baker Theatre, it’ll be with decades of experience in knowing what makes their audiences tick.

Created in Washington D.C. in 1981, the ensemble was formed when staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. Co-founders Elaina Newport, Bill Strauss, and Jim Aidala say they ditched the idea of staging a nativity play, and instead decided to delve into the headlines of the day via song parodies and skits.

Thirty-seven years later, the cast members—many of whom have worked on Capitol Hill in positions across the political spectrum—are still calling attention to the foibles of elected officials. They say that no matter who holds office, there’s never a shortage of material to draw from.

“Typically the Republicans goof up and the Democrats party,” Newport says of the subject matter to be found on Capitol Hill. “Then the Democrats goof up and the Republicans party. That’s what we call the two-party system.”

Cast members are also known to stick around. For example, Thornton joined the Steps in 1997, and has embodied every president since Reagan—including Obama.

Along with Thornton’s take on Trump, those in attendance at “Make America Grin Again” can expect to see the four liberal members of the Supreme Court singing a song about longevity that includes the phrase “our legal briefs are now Depends,” a stirring solo by Omarosa Manigault, and “401K,” a memorable ditty that proclaims “since the stock market’s great, his impeachment can wait.”

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