Politics in Song

September 4, 2014
BY Heather Norris
Satire group headlines Beth El event

090514_capital-stepsThe Capitol Steps will highlight Beth El Congregation’s Evening of Celebration on Sept. 14.

The political satire group was formed in 1981 in Washington, D.C., as a group of Senate staffers putting on a show for a Christmas party and has since expanded to a 20-member troupe that has performed in all 50 states. While most shows focus on politics on the national level, some, like the upcoming show at Beth El, feature some extra touches.

The 90-minute show will take on some subjects related to Israel and Judaism, something the troupe’s five Jewish members were qualified to help with.

“We sing Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas to the tune of ‘Embraceable You,’ but instead we sing “Erasable Jew,’” said Brad Van Grack, a current member with 23 years’ experience in the troupe.

The job for Van Grack and the other performers is full time. In addition to Friday and Saturday pre-show rehearsals, they must constantly practice their parts and keep up with the news of the day. Because politics is an ever-changing topic, the shows change often, and performers are constantly learning new material.

While Van Grack came from a background in performance art, many of the troupe members have direct experience in Washington politics. All told, the Steps’ website boasts, the group has a combined experience of 62 years spent in 18 congressional offices.

This month’s performance at Beth El won’t be the first for The Capitol Steps, but it will feature some material new to the Baltimore crowd.

“We’ve got a little bit about the IRS and the email situation, we touch on immigration, we talk about NSA spying,” said Van Grack, in addition to skits about Greece and the Redskins’ name controversy and a new song that plays on Pharrell William’s Spring 2014 hit song “Happy.”

hnorris@jewishtimes.com

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