The 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.”
The 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