Side-splitting 'Capitol Steps' return for second week of Fanfare
Contact: Christina Chapple
(1 & 2) CAPITOL STEPS FANFARE ENCORE – The hilarious political satire troupe The Capitol Steps, a favorite presentation of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare since 1996, will return to the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts for a 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, Oct. 11.
(3) VIRTUOSO VIOLINIST – Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare will partner the Amite Arts Council to present violinist Arkady Yanivker on Oct. 7 at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 800 N. Duncan Ave., Amite.
(4) GREEN SPEAKER – As a guest of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Fanfare at 7:30 p.m., on Monday, Oct. 8, New York actor and activist Jens Rasmussen will present “An Inconvenient Truth,” detailing the threats of global warming.
(5 & 6) HIGH NOON FICTION – Fanfare’s “High Noon Fiction” series will feature readings by Southeastern Louisiana University English faculty and award-winning authors Jack Bedell and Norman German at noon Wednesday, Oct. 9, in Vonnie Borden Theatre.
(7) WHO KILLED JFK? – Southeastern Louisiana University historian and author Michael Kurtz will masterfully sum up the myriad of theories that swirl around the JFK assassination in Fanfare’s “Now and Then” lecture series, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 10, 1 p.m., in the Pottle Music Building Auditorium.
HAMMOND – Music and political satire by The Capitol Steps, the Washington-based troupe of Congressional staffers turned songwriters who put the “mock” in democracy, headlines the second week of Fanfare, Southeastern Louisiana University’s annual festival of the arts.
A Fanfare favorite since 1996, The Capitol Steps have earned a side-splitting reputation for being the only group in Washington that attempts to be funnier than Congress. The group will return to Southeastern’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Oct. 11, for a 7:30 p.m. performance.
Tickets are $28, adults; $24, senior citizens, Southeastern faculty, staff, and alumni; $20, group rate; and $18, all students.
The Capitol Steps began 25 years ago as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them. Although not all of the current members are former Capitol Hill staffers, taken together the performers have worked in a total of 18 Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience.
The Capitol Steps have recorded 27 albums, including their latest, “Springtime for Liberals.” They've been featured on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, and can be heard four times a year on National Public Radio stations nationwide during their “Politics Takes a Holiday” specials.
No matter who holds office, there's never a shortage of material, said “Stepper” Elaina Newport. "Typically the Republicans goof up, and the Democrats party,” she said. “Then the Democrats goof up and the Republicans party. That's what we call the two-party system."
The troupe’s material is updated constantly, whether it is the Democrats' current infatuation with Barack Obama in "A Leader Like Barack" (to "The Leader of the Pack") or the latest opinion from Ann Coulter ("Loonies of the Right") or on the international side, President Bush and the Prime Minister of Japan reconciling their differences in the touching "Stand By Japan." No matter who's in the headlines, the Capitol Steps are equal opportunity offenders.
As a “warm-up” for The Capitol Step’s performance, Southeastern faculty will present a panel discussion on “Political Satire, Past and Present” earlier in the day. At 1 p.m., Oct. 11, in the Pottle Music Building Auditorium political scientist Peter Petrakis, literary scholar Mary Sue Ply, rhetorician Claire Procopio, and philosopher Jeffrey Bell will discuss the past history and present significance of political satire.
Fanfare’s second week will also include the first of a series of free Sunday afternoon concerts throughout the area. The Amite Arts Council will partner with Fanfare to present violinist Arkady Yanivker on Oct. 7 at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 800 N. Duncan Ave., Amite.
Pianist Olga Tchniak will accompany Yankivker, first violin for the Toronto Symphony and Toronto Philharmonia. The virtuoso is founding member of several music festivals, and has been praised for his original concert program, "The Glory of the Violin." His performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto has been heralded as "...a stunning performance...fresh and joyful of spirit."
On Monday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m. in D Vickers Hall’s Vonnie Borden Theatre, New York activist and actor Jens Rasmussen will present “An Inconvenient Truth.” Rasmussen is one of a diverse group of Americans who have joined a grassroots effort spearheaded by former Vice President Al Gore to spread the message about the threat of global warming. Rasmussen’s informative and entertaining presentation will explore how individuals, businesses, schools and organizations can be a part of the solution to global warming.
Following the free presentation, sponsored by Southeastern’s College of Science and Technology, Rasmussen will be joined for a question-answer session by Southeastern biologist Thais Perkins, who is also trained to present the “An Inconvenient Truth” message.
The “High Noon Fiction” series will feature Southeastern poet Jack Bedell and short-story writer Norman German, both authors on the Southeastern English faculty. The authors will read from their latest works on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at noon in Vonnie Borden Theatre. Bedell, who recently was named Louisiana Professional Artist for 2007 in the state “Governor’s Awards,” will read from works such as “Come Rain, Come Shine” and “French Connections: A Gathering of Franco-American Poets.” German, whose stories appear in literary journals and popular magazines, will share his award-winning story “Control Burn.” The authors’ presentation is free.
Also on Oct. 9, Fanfare’s free Foreign Film series will continue with the 1993 Italian drama “Flight of the Innocent,” the story of the gentle son of a brutal kidnapper who witnesses the massacre of his family by a rival gang and narrowly escapes into the Italian countryside. Relentlessly pursued by the killers and the police, young Vito begins a terrifying life on the run, determined to outwit this followers, find a new family and end his old family's lineage of crime. The 106-minute film, scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Student Union Theatre, is rated “R” for graphic violence and language.
The Department of History and Political Sciences’ “Then and Now” lecture series will continue on Wednesday, Oct. 10, with a 1 p.m. presentation at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium by Michael Kurtz, an internationally recognized authority on the Kennedy assassination. Kurtz, recently retired from the Southeastern history faculty and as dean of the university’s Graduate School, will discuss his second book on the assassination, “The JFK Assassination Debates: Lone Gunman vs. Conspiracy Theory.” In the book, Kurtz masterfully sums up the host of theories -- from the serious to the silly – that continue to swirl around that fateful 1963 day in Dallas. A book signing will follow his presentation.
Southeastern’s Contemporary Art Gallery in East Stadium will be the setting on Oct. 10, for a 6 p.m. preview screening of the first episode in a new season of PBS’s Emmy-nominated documentary series, “Art:21 -- Art in the Twenty-first Century,” which focuses on American contemporary visual artists. The episode “Ecology” will feature artists Robert Adams, Mark Dion, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Refreshments will be served and admission is free.
Oct. 10 will also see the opening of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” by Southeastern’s acclaimed Opera/Music Theatre Workshop. The classic musical comedy, which blends the hilarious illogicalities of a Latin comedy with the zany nonsense of vaudeville, will run through Oct. 13 with a 7:30 p.m. curtain time nightly at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium.
A favorite of both stage and screen, “Funny Thing” recounts with music and laughter a day in the life of Pseudolus – liar, blackmailer, slave – who struggles to win the hand of a beautiful but slow-witted courtesan for his young master in exchange for freedom.
Tickets are $14, general admission, and $10, senior citizens, Southeastern faculty, staff and alumni, and non -Southeastern students. Southeastern students will be admitted free with the university I.D.
Wrapping up Fanfare’s second week on Saturday, Oct. 13, are two Fanfare events in the community.
At 10:30 p.m. at the Hammond Library, 314 E. Thomas Street, youngsters can enjoy “Stories and Jazz” by children’s librarian Karen Plauche.
Also on Oct. 13, the city of Ponchatoula will host its popular Berry Patch Quilt and Art Expo. Scheduled from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. throughout the south Tangipahoa Parish city, the expo draws thousands of visitors to see the colorful spectacle of quilts draped from the balconies of the local shops. The expo also includes features fabric dyeing specialist Ginny Eckley, the “Fat Quarter Stroll,” quilt raffle, and children’s activities. The Ponchatoula Community Center, 300 N. 5th St., will host the Hoffman challenge quilts, a merchants mall, exhibits and lecturers.
Fanfare tickets are on sale at the Columbia/Fanfare box office, 220 E. Thomas Street, 985-543-4371. Box office hours are noon to 5 p.m., weekdays. For a complete schedule, contact the Columbia/Fanfare office at 985-543-4366 or visit the Fanfare links at columbiatheatre.org.