Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 1, Page 8
Poking fun at Politicians

     Hailing from a long line of entertainers, Ann Margaret Schmitt,
Delaware '74, started singing at age 4. After graduating from the
University, she played dinner theatres, had small roles on television
and in films and performed as a professional cheerleader in sports
     But, her big break came after she cast aside the quirky world of
entertainment for a 9-to-5 job on Capitol Hill. While working for
Delaware Sen. William V. Roth, Schmitt read about a troupe of
Congressional staffers whose comic singing performances poked fun at
Washington newsmakers and national social issues.
     Where could she sign up?
     Schmitt auditioned for The Capitol Steps in 1986 and was hired on
a part-time basis when the seven-member troupe had its first opening a
year later. She joined the troupe full time in 1991, and today, she's
one of 18 performers.
     "It's sort of like Second City or Saturday Night Live. We do
political skits that are set to music. We take a familiar song and
spoof it," says Schmitt, who majored in sociology at Delaware. "The
writers are clever with their thoughts and how they put them together.
It's a very original show. They work the words into the original song
as though we were singing the original song."
     As a member of the troupe, Schmitt has performed on Good Morning
America, CBS This Morning and Entertainment Tonight. She sang the
solo, "Fools on the Hill," on the Today show. She's been to the White
House five times and has performed for hundreds of famous people,
including Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.
     "President and Barbara Bush were wonderful. The more you sang
about him, the better. When we finished the show, he said, 'You guys
were great, but you didn't do much about me. Hit me with your best
shot.' So, we got up and performed some more," says Schmitt, who lives
in Annapolis, Md.
     Washington insiders and outsiders enjoy the group's satire.
Although the troupe performs regularly at a trendy nightclub in
Georgetown, 90 percent of its performances are outside the Washington,
D.C., Beltway.
     Originally, The Capitol Steps troupe performed solely in private
shows for corporations and organizations. Now, its public shows are in
equal demand. Schmitt says she has performed in Canada, Bermuda and
Puerto Rico and has been in all but four or five of the states,
recently returning from her second trip to Alaska.
     "Public shows are great. You know the people are coming
specifically to see you. It's in a regular theatre and it's a
different atmosphere," she says. "The shows are longer and there's a
lot more material. We have just as much fun on stage as the people in
the audience do watching us."
     Schmitt plays a wide range of characters, ranging from Hillary
Clinton to Lorena Bobbitt.
     "I love being on stage. I love the applause. I love making people
laugh. It's really nice, too, when after the shows, people say, 'You
have a lovely voice.' And, I enjoy traveling," she says. "When we go
to nice places, we sit around and say, 'We're getting paid for this?'"
     Capitol Steps just released its 14th album, Lord of the Fries.
The title pokes fun at President Clinton's unabashed love for
McDonald's fast-food restaurants. Schmitt says that one of the
troupe's strengths is that all its members have worked on Capitol Hill
and are familiar with the Washington scene.
     Before working on the Hill, Schmitt performed in off-Broadway
plays as well as for dinner theatres and touring companies. She made
the rounds of auditions and agent calls in both New York City and Los
Angeles. She also worked as a cheerleader for the New York Cosmos
soccer team.
     "It was a lot of fun. I performed at Giant Stadium and did a lot
of personal appearances. Then, when they found out I could sing, I got
to sing the national anthem a few times. I sang it in the middle of
the field to more than 55,000 people at Brendan Byrne Arena and at
Madison Square Garden," Schmitt says.
     "It's amazing," she says, "I live in Annapolis and I have a
career in show business. I work really hard and I travel a lot.
Basically, it's pretty great."
                                         -Marylee Sauder, Delaware '83