The mistaken identity story is a light-hearted and humorous way to guide us through the workings of the Capitol, and through the building itself. The audience is split into three groups, each with a different tour guide (Ann Daly, Ariel Leaf, and Mark Shepard). We're together for most of the first act in the basement hub of the building. In the second act, we move upstairs to witness three scenes in different parts of the building that all relate to our main story. Finally, we come back together again for the culmination of the story in the joint session, before one final singalong in the gorgeous rotunda, underneath the second largest unsupported dome in the world.
Oh, did I mention there's singing?! I was not expecting that, and it came as a delightful surprise. The original songs (composed by Becky Dale, with lyrics by the composer and playwrights) are peppy and fun (one started off sounding exactly like "Be Our Guest") and provide another way into the story and the lives of these people. The cast earnestly sings and dances (choreography by Leah Nelson and Frank Kohlasch) in the most charming way, with cast-member Adam Whisner leading most of the songs on guitar (with Margie O'Loughlin on concertina and Greg Byers on cello).
The 19-person cast is made up of about a third actors and two-thirds "real people," by which I mean people who are part of the Capitol community in some way. You can almost tell which are which, but in a good way. The enthusiasm and openness of the non-actors more than makes up for any training they might be lacking. They all do great service to these true stories, some inspiring and some infuriating, as they lead us through this beautiful building. We also get a bit of history of the Capitol (it opened in 1905 and was designed by Cass Gilbert, who went on to design the US Supreme Court), and have time to look around and take pictures (just don't linger too long or you might get yelled at by a stage manager for missing the next scene).
As someone who sees a ton of theater, it's such a delight to see something so unique and so connected to our world. I believe in the power of theater to educate, enlighten, connect, and effect change, and Our House is a wonderful example of that.
*The three remaining performances this weekend are sold out, but you can take your chances on the waitlist 30 minutes prior to showtime (click here for details).