A Varsity Show Exorcise

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vshowThe cast of the 115th Varsity Show entered to raucous applause from the crowd of 100 packed into the back room of the West End (as it will forever remain, at least for V-Show purposes). Our host for the evening was this year’s narrative patriarch, retiring Dean Austin Quigley, caught up in reading his own interview in Columbia College Today.

After announcing that he would still be teaching, as well as being “Supreme Chancellor to the Committee on Tree Lightings” (“I can light a Yule log like nobody else”) Dean Quigley (a delightfully posh Adam May Patrick Blute) took us to the first scene — a SEAS sophomore (sophomore Nina Pedrad) in Butler on a Friday being annoyed by fellow “studiers.” After getting snappy, she received the first Barnard joke of the night: “Do you need a hug? At Barnard, we hug.” In Preview form, it wouldn’t be the last.

Fed up, the SEAS student returned to her dorm, only to have her floormates, expelled from broken-up parties, make her the subject of an exorcism. This not only led to the truest line of the night (“But we don’t know how to have an exorcism.” “We’re Columbia students; we can bullshit anything!”), but also the most complex choreography, including a SEAS student being raised up Jesus Christ Superstar-style, and all the performers “doing the devil.”

The second storyline also had two numbers — the first was a nostalgic duet between two frat brothers (Kendale Winbush and Adam May) over video games. The song had some good lines (“Talk is overrated, but what we’ve got is understated”) and some fantastic dancing, but some of the jazzy harmonies may have been beyond the pair’s vocal facility, and Bwog couldn’t help feeling it was a Columbia version of “Guy Love.”

barnardThe second song and final number, though, might have been the show stopper: meet a P-Diddified Vincent Stephanzo (Yonatan Gebeyehu), throwing a party at Campo. There were economy jokes (Vincent: “You know how I know it’s a recession? People say I look like a million! Dammit, I was worth 2 million yesterday!”), Barnard jokes (A Barnard cocktail — “Goes down easy, but you’ll regret it in the morning”), Core jokes (“Is your name Dante? Because it’s an inferno in here”) and that time-honored college classic — the freshman joke, about three first-years who wander into the party promising themselves only one drink. Their “grande vermouth” drinks had them spinning in the kind of sloppy mess familiar to anyone who’s stopped by Carman on a Friday night. A diminutive but dynamite Giselle Gastell, the cast’s only ’09 representative, played the ditzy first-year like only a senior can.

Sure, the show milked familiar stereotypes — Barnard bimbo, SEAS screamer, Brit prof, Frat Bro — dulling our hopes for much in the way of a fresh new plot for this year’s Varsity show. But the young cast beams talent, and they’ve got a few months to smooth out the rough edges. Until May then!

– Review by JCD, LBD, and JYH, photos by LBD

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    and totally worth my $3!!!

  2. Dean..  

    ...Quigley was played Pat Blute, not Adam May.

  3. Wow  

    So good, so good. This awe amazing.

  4. hey bwog  

    i heard that no doubt will be playing the spring concert.

    • ...  

      nope. neither of the bands will be no doubt.

      • Bummer!  

        I was really excited for a second there!!

        Also, with regards to the preview . . . Did no one else find a song called "Satan is Coming to Town" to be even a little bit disturbing if not tasteless? Musically the song was great, and it was incredibly well-performed; but . . . really? As a first-year, I've never a whole VShow, but the performances at Days on Campus and during NSOP led me to believe it was supposed to be about the Columbia everyone knows and can relate to . . . I'm not sure a song that will probably offend a lot of students and is about something that not even that many of us heard about suits this goal . . . It also wasn't that funny.

        Loved the drunk song/dance though. Story of my life!

      • when  

        will they announce who it will be?

  5. oh man  

    "Dulling our hopes for much in the way of a fresh new plot" - Yes, I wish more of the characters were not relatable to Columbia students. I think "milked familiar stereotypes" is more accurate; those actors were spot-on and the writing was spectacular.

  6. you stupid freshman  

    of course you don't know about the exorcism. you weren't here.
    and seriously...it's not that offensive. i second flanman.

  7. damn

    Giselle is fabulous. She can be my grande vermouth any day.

  8. oh.hello.there  

    The girls were great, the choreography was spectacular (thank you for the hilarious "Spring Awakening" reference during the exorcism song), the boys cannot sing, and Dean Quigley was not NEARLY funny enough (or funny at all?) for the amount of time he was on...

    Giselle was standout (of course). The show just wasn't... funny enough. Sure, it definitely had its moments, and the Barnard jokes were hilarious, but certainly nothing new. The bromance tune was horrendous and grating, but the Campo scene was a blast (props to Yonaton). One big problem - while the tunes were witty, they weren't memorable and catchy enough. Some really great parts to the preview, but a lot of it was recycled material.

    A good start, worth the $3, but nothing amazing. Hopefully they can polish this baby into something spectacular for May!

  9. oh.hello.there  

    P.S. The freshmen were indeed here for the exorcism... the actual event occurred on October 25th, and was reported on mid-November. Look it up.

    If you don't get the references (or oddly found the jokes too offensive), welp that's your own fault. No need to be an ass though.

  10. oh.hello.there  

    The fact that you are bringing SONDHEIM, a certifiable GENIUS, into this (and comparing his work to ANYTHING in the VShow) is a sad, sad, sad thing. Really, not even worth the effort of a legitimate response.

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