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Singing the News

The Capitol Steps, D.C.’s satirical singers, will perform their politically charged show at The Plaza Theatre. By Jay Boyar

The economy in crisis.

Health care in turmoil.

Two wars blazing away.

Kind of makes you feel like breaking out in song, doesn’t it? Well, it does if you’re the Capitol Steps.

For nearly three decades, the satirical Washington, D.C., group has been singing about the sorts of issues that make most of us feel like crying.

You may have heard the group on one of its 29 albums, on National Public Radio or at any of the hundreds of appearances it makes each year around the country. This month, you can catch the Steps at The Plaza Theatre.

When the group started out, all the members worked on Capitol Hill; about half of the current 30 members have worked there. The group includes both Democrats and Republicans, and a typical performance involves five singers (who assume multiple roles) and a piano player.

“It’s kind of fun because the guy who plays Joe Biden will also have to come back and play Kim Jong-il or Mark Sanford,” says Elaina Newport, a co-founder of the Steps who still performs and writes some of the songs. “We’re running off stage, changing costumes faster than a Cher show.”

Newport says that Florida is one of the group’s favorite states—from a comedy perspective. New York, California and Alaska have lately been favorites, too. Back in the “hanging chad” days, however, Florida was by far the funniest.

“I actually got to play a hanging chad in the Capitol Steps show,” she recalls. “We had a song to the tune of ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’.”

Although the group’s songs change with the headlines, Newport is reasonably sure that the Orlando show will include “Strangers on the Flight” (about airport scanners) and “Return to Spenders” (about Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi). There’s also a song about Tiger Woods, to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.”

It’s called “Lie of the Tiger.”

May 1, 7 p.m. $37-$57. The Plaza Theatre, 425 N. Bumby Ave. 407-228-1220.


Blues & Beverage

MAY 21-23 The historic Lakeside Inn on Lake Dora is hosting the Mount Dora Blues & Wine Festival featuring Jacqueline Jones, Bobby Blackmon, Apple Mary’s Blues and the T Scott TropRockers Blues Band. Samples of wines from local wine sellers will be available from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, included in the ticket price. Take a chair or blanket for this outdoor event. Friday 5-8 p.m., Saturday 3-9 p.m., Sunday noon-4 p.m. three-day ticket $48,  Friday night welcome party $8, Saturday $36, Sunday $12. 800-556-5016 or 352-728-5250.


Your Show of Shows

MAY 20-31 The 19th annual Orlando Fringe Festival brings 12 days of wild, wacky and sometimes downright weird theater to the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando Repertory Theatre and Loch Haven Park. This year’s theme is “recession-proof entertainment.” (The Fringe is offering more free events than ever.) More than 70 groups—some local (including VarieTEASE), some from as far away as New York, Toronto, Japan and the United Kingdom (Eyewitness Theatre, a Fringe veteran, with an adaptation of The Trojan Women)—offer hundreds of plays, theatrical events, standup comedy acts, musicals, art and more in 10 venues and on the free outdoor stage. While many of the shows are for adults, there is something for everyone, including a Kids Fringe. Check the schedule online. You need an $8 Fringe badge (one is good for the entire festival) plus a ticket for each event; tickets are free-$10. 812 E. Rollins St. 407-648-0077.



Hormones on Parade

MAY 18-23 Teenage angst and passion are nothing new. Just check out Spring Awakening, which is set in 19th century Germany, and based on a 109-year-old German play that was banned for a century. This Tony Award-winning musical sets the rocky journey from youth into adulthood to a soundtrack of folk, alternative and rock music by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik. The musical has encouraged parents and teens to open conversations about the issues in the play. Strong language, nudity and sexual situations. Tuesday-Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 2 and 8 p.m., Sunday 1 and 6:30 p.m. $25-$66. Bob Carr Performing Arts Center.


Let’s Get Whimsical

MAY 22-AUGUST 29 The sketches and drawings of Mo Willems, New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, are on view this month at the Orlando Museum of Art. The exhibition, Knuffle Funny: The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems, features 60 black-and-white and color drawings from some of Willems’ best-known picture books, including the quirky Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. This show is part of the museum’s annual Art of the Picture Book Series, a summer tradition for many Central Florida families. Winner of several Caldecott Honor awards, Willems began his career as a writer and animator for television, scoring six Emmy awards for his writing on Sesame Street. Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday noon-4 p.m. $8. Members free. 2416 N. Mills Ave. 407-896-4231.


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