THEATRE REVIEW: The Capitol Steps – What to Expect When You’re Electing

Every year a contingent of performers from the Capitol Steps Collective come to Lenox, Massachusetts, and takes up residence at Cranwell for a summer of performances. Each time they do, they seem to be funnier and more talented than they were the year before, which is hardly possible. When I sit down to write about them, they are generally performing by night and packing up by day in order to move to other company locales around the country. This makes it very hard to write about them, to encourage my readers to go see them. Nevertheless, it is imperative that I say what I can say and let you make up your own minds.

Bari Biern as Sarah Palin.

Three regulars who have endeared themselves over the years are Bari Biern, Jack Rowles, and Mike Thornton. I doubt that this company can get any better than these three, but they assure me it’s just not so, that the members who follow here are just as . . . well, not all of them . . . but of course they are . . . but indispensible . . . not really, no, just replaceable . . . or not.

Jack Rowles.

This is a banner year for hysterically hot material. Rowles’ Bernie Sanders, though outrageous, is no more outrageous than the original he mocks (this company “puts the ‘mock’ in democracy,” you see). Bari Biern’s Sarah Palin is still paling the flailing-tongued Tea Party Alice in Wonderland where she can see Putin’s press conference from her home in Alaska. Mike Thornton makes everyone he plays funnier than the originals and that’s often pretty hard to do. Donald Trump is as big a target for satire here as Bill Clinton or Mitch McConnell or anyone else Thornton takes on. Jon Bell is bringing the “itch” to the twitch of Barack Obama and Janet Gordon’s Hilary in the hot seat is hilariously humorous.

Emily Spitz is their formidable pianist who looks like she’s improvising the score, generally show tunes and pop music with new words that illuminate both their source material and their political postscripts.

Ninety minutes with this group (or with their replacements, I have been assured) can easily make your summer entertainment in the Berkshires a very worthwhile time spent laughing at the situations that could have us all moving to Canada until it wisely gets around to closing its border. In the meantime I’d follow these people anywhere, but they never tell me where they’re going; they know I’m a man of my word. (Pssst. Call me.)


The Capitol Steps’ “What to Expect When You’re Electing” plays nightly (except Tuesdays) through Friday, September 2, at the Harvest Barn at Cranwell Golf Course and Spa on Route 7 in Lenox, MA. For tickets and information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar, call the box office at (413) 881-1636, or go online to