May

2

Review: The 115th Annual Varsity Show

Written by


Like many of you, last night the staff of the
Blue and White attended the 115th Annual Varsity Show, “The Gates of Wrath.”

The Varsity Show should not be, as most people say, about collectively making fun of ourselves and our school. It’s about collectively doing something—anything—together. And last night, at the premiere of the 115th Annual Varsity Show, we spent three hours doing just that. From 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., the hundreds who gathered in Roone for last night’s sold-out performance met a cast of familiar Columbia stereotypes (a dishonest but well-intentioned i-banker, tragically underutilized SCEG types, etc.) as well as those who aren’t such perennial Morningside fixtures (a marriage-crazed debutante, a would-be Broadway star cursed with a gift for physics.) In the past, unrealistic characters have been created with great success in Varsity Shows—recall the ritzy GS character in the 2006 show and the creepy old man who lived in Carman in the 2007 show—but this year, it just happens that they weren’t funny imaginary characters (except for Patrick Blute’s spirited and charismatic portrayal of a megalomaniacal Dean Quigley, who bears little resemblance to the real thing). Enjoyable moments came mostly from minor characters and small quips tossed in, but these moments of hilarity were largely independent from the plot and the characters.

Still, stand-out performances from Yonatan Gebeyehu as President Bollinger and the Hallelujah Man (among other things), Giselle Gastell as the aforementioned theatrically inclined engineer, and Adam May, who nailed the few solid punchlines given to his troubled i-banker character, helped to salvage individual scenes. As one might expect from a three hour show, much of the material felt extraneous, particularly the inexplicable dance numbers “Satan is Coming to Town” and “Downtown,” both of which solicited looks of confusion from audience members surrounding the Blue and White. Save phenomenal solo performances from Kendale Winbush (playing an earnest CCer looking to transfer to NYU) and Gastelle, much of the music was unmemorable, and what was memorable was clunky. For instance, the chorus to the “Please, Don’t Go” was just bizarre: “Knees as weak as water/you make my heart stop its blood flow.”

However, last year’s lovely show suffered the same dearth of show-stopping numbers, but it succeeded on the strength of the writing and the quick and lucid plot development. This year, the best one-liners were, ironically, ones that had little to do with Columbia: “You can’t do anything with one bar,” yelled at a white MacBook and a reference to NYU’s “sexual reorientation” program were favorites among the staff of the Blue and White. Many of those zeitgeisty “it happened this year!” jokes felt tacked on and obligatory—as if the writers had a mental checklist and tried to make sure they hit every campus issue at least once. The show was also decidedly less crass than it was in previous years. A perpetually screeching and bouncing Barnard character seemed to be in heat (or something) but there was very little sexual innuendo compared to previous years. Accolades to this year’s design team, for constructing the wittiest set in recent memory, especially for the interior design job done on Dean Quigley’s lair, which was winningly monogrammed and festooned with tapestries and the Union Jack.

But regardless of whether it used stereotypes, rehashed jokes, or spoke to your experience, the Varsity Show didn’t do its job: it didn’t entertain, and a large reason for this can be explained by its sheer length. There was a funny and enjoyable 90 minute production in there–we wish we just could have seen that show.

–The staff of the Blue and White; illustration by Stephen Davan

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163 Comments

  1. ok but really  

    it was entertaining...come on...

  2. Yeah...  

    I liked the show, Bwog. =(

  3. no, actually  

    it was about three hours too long.

  4. Also  

    it was not sold out

  5. "i loveeee youuu"

    yonaton was amazing. he legit saved the show. i don't really know him that well, but honestly want to be that kids best friend.as prezbo when he hailed the cab to race it? and oh my the hallelujah man...the auditorium actually lost it.

    and "quigley" was pretty damn funny. does anyone know what the odds are that he'd go see it? because i'd want a front row seat of HIM watching it.

    the rest of the characters were um...pretty...weird. in um...a pretty bad way.

  6. BWOG  

    WHAT ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH IS HAPPENING ON LOW PLAZA AND WHY IS IT SO LOUD??

    Also: Excellent review. I'll be happy to see anyone disagree, just because that means at least some people enjoyed themselves. But it was pretty much a trainwreck, aside from still very good singing, acting, and design.

  7. thank you  

    bwog for being man enough to speak truth about a show that slobbered over you like it wanted a treat. The show was disjointed and uninspired, and what talent there was might as well have been in a plot-less talent show.

  8. Honestly: 5/10  

    Not.....that great.

    THE GOOD

    Patrick Blutte as Dean Quigley. Pure awesome. He was the absolute stand out and nailed every scene he was in. Him and the GS girl had great chemistry. Can't believe he's a freshman.

    The entire cast was pretty great in general. Everyone involved was good, honestly. Not a weak link in the main performers.

    Good bits: The Hallelujah man, Prezbo, the bwog posters.


    THE BAD.

    Too long. 3 hours for 90 minutes of material. They could have cut like an hour very easily.

    The plot wasn't all that great. It didn't focus on the Columbia experience enough. It was all about these unique characters (not stereotypes that are broadly relatable too either) and only some small aspects of the Columbia life (CU assassins) that you could tell the writers were familiar with.

    Building up on that...the characters themselves (girl that wants to get married, SEAS girl who wants to be a star, guy who wants the NY experience, abused GS student) were somewhat annoying. Good for a first chuckle but after two hours you're hoping for a bloody third act and crowd splatter. I liked the failed iBanker (even though i had no idea what he was doing in the play in the first place). He felt very shoe-horned in but the concept was good. Could have worked as an eager econ major instead of an alumn just hiding among the kids.

    The songs:
    Too much music. "Too much music in a musical? STFU". No. There should be a balance in a Varsity show. Background tunes with clear spoken lines and jokes. Instead here we got full 6-9 minute songs, with very little breaks, that just dragged on. Anything more than 3-4 minutes is just gonna be a stretch. Especially since the jokes are scarce in them.

    Some jokes were downright cringe worthy. And the good ones were just repeated AD fucking Nauseum. "The economy is bad!" "CU Assassin!" "Ha, GS!"......Urgh. Once is enough but having 8-15 jokes about each of these things. Just too much. There's so much more to make fun of.

    The big laughs didn't always hit the right jokes. So you would have the entire crowd laughing at something good and then the actor still had to stumble through 2-3 lines to finish the scene, forcing a collective weak chuckle. Not enough stage rehearsal with a crowd.

    Too much tap-dancing. I appreciate the actors' skills but I don't need to see it more than once. More fun for the performers than the audience that one.

    The stage itself was..strange. Directing wasn't the best. They sometimes overcrowded the scene in the second act and for some reason the big dance scenes always occurred bundled to the right. The characters felt very crowded on that side of the scene. Kinda odd.

    BOTTOM LINE:

    If you're interested in the V-show, it's worth seeing. It will be a disappointment if you've seen the one last year (that Facebook bit was KILLER). If you're not and are just looking for a fun activity...you can find better I'd say.

    GREAT cast, really average writing, uneven show. They say you shouldn't criticize unless you can do better. In terms of writing I'm completely confident in saying I could have done better. (5/10)

    • Unless  

      you've basically dedicated your life to a show like the cast, creative team and crew of Varsity Show did, I don't know that you really have a right to be that critical.

      Yes, there were parts that seemed weak (some of the microphones certainly weren't turned up high enough), but remember that everyone who did Varsity Show is human

      • definitely

        Hear! Hear!

        The cast and crew did an amazing job and - at the end of the day - it's really amazing that they pulled together a show as intricate as they did.

        Way to go, fellow Columbians! Keep rockin!

      • Ok they're  

        human, but they also had a staggering amount of money and time with which it wouldn't take gods to make something better than this.

        I realize money can't buy writing talent, but perhaps they could have stepped it up to do justice to all the actually talented people on stage and on the D-Team.

        • Exactly!  

          I judged this show based on a) what I saw last year b) the potential I saw and c) what I heard from past shows that literally had people gasping for air.

          Yes, they're human but with the energy put in, resources, time, etc..the Varsity Show comes with VERY high expectations (that are at times surpassed!). This ain't no high school improv.

          EVERYONE agrees that the performers were amazing. It's just the material that was....err...well...poor.

          I'm very proud that fellow students put on such an intricate show but resources aside I'm in the audience and i want to be fully entertained.

          No one is bashing anyone here (Angry Black Man probably will); we're just giving our opinion.

    • Anonymous  

      As someone who has co-written two of the shows (113 and 114), I feel sorta compelled to say a couple things.

      First, thanks for caring enough about the Varsity Show to think about it as much as you have. People who not only enjoy it, but think about it, are the reason it's stayed alive for so long.

      Second, I don't necessarily agree with what "they say" about criticism and whether or not you could do better. I think that you go to a show and commit your time and money in the hopes of being entertained--if you did you did, and if you didn't you didn't, and you should be able to express either without feeling an obligation to create something of your own.

      Third, and given the above, it's extremely presumptuous and condescending of you to blanketly declare that you "could have done better." It shows a lack of knowledge of the creative process, which involves a massive time commitment, and many, many people having many, many meetings and discussions in which not everybody gets their way. Saying "I could have done better," is a claim that you not only could have singlehandedly replaced all three writers but basically the entire creative team, by being the only voice that mattered.

      Fourth, audition to write next year if you want to! It's a lot of fun!

      Fifth, and sorry to everyone else if you waded through all this, I loved the show. Congratulations to everyone involved in V115!

      • You're right  

        ...About the "I could have done better part". Allow me to rephrase: I think I could have come up with stronger jokes at times and maybe a tighter concept if I were to participate in the creation of such a show.

        Sorry for the initial hubris.

        Writing auditions? How do those work? I thought the writing spots were decided by the previous writers who cherry picked among campus editors and the likes....

        • Anonymous  

          Nope, the writing auditions are open to all, and even read completely blind (at least that's the way we did it for the past couple years).

          Also, whoever wrote comment #33 is a pretty great human being.

  9. wtf  

    its the design team who does the set. get your facts straight.

  10. fair  

    but how could you ever top 2008? J-Shap pulling a Lysistrata / hunger strike? I figured this one would be weak in comparison and that's why I enjoyed it anyway.

    The sound was really shitty, though - pleeeease don't turn everyone's mic down on big chorus scenes because then their individual lines are inaudible.

    Also, CC women don't generally fall into the stereotype of going to college to find a husband - that's more NYU. So Laura's character was a little weird.

  11. SO disappointing.  

    Piss poor. One of the writers is a sophomore, and this clearly caused the show to suffer. The jokes were all too often freshman-oriented and showed a clear lack of experience at Columbia. Also, the fact that both writers were girls definitely gave the show its lack of comedic diversity. They should have pushed the envelope more and in different ways. props to the guy who did quigley. you stole the show.

    • facts please  

      The show was written by one boy and two girls, so your comedic diversity argument makes no sense.

      But I do wish this year's senior class hadn't completely abandoned the v-show.

  12. thanks bwog

    for giving an honest review, b/c i really didn't think you would.
    you impressed me.

  13. seriously  

    come on Bwog. I realize that some of you writing this article may have personal vendettas against the writers, but really now. That's just childish.

    I don't mean that we want to hear a glowing reveiew, but please, at least be fair.

  14. hey y'all  

    there seem to be tons of comments about how the money should support the show-

    you can totally see where all the money went- into the set, which was great, and into other technical aspects.

    you need to remember that money can't buy talented writing in this case- so quit giving funding as a reason here.

  15. I propose  

    we gather up the cast and chorus of 114 and see that again!

  16. missed last year...  

    are there DVDs of last year's performance? i hear it was AMAZING.

  17. Tonites show

    Mic shit is still not happening! Laaaaame.

  18. in all honesty  

    the show was terrible. people started walking out half an hour in.

  19. dvds  

    how do we get them? can i get one of last years??

  20. V114  

    was much better than this years show. That being said there was a lot more material to work with last year Ahmadinejad, hunger strike etc. The cast was great this year however.

  21. Senior

    The VShow was and always will be an exhibition of extremely talented students, but as a production this years was the weakest in the past four years.

    Although they didn't have much material to work with way too many of the jokes were based on first year dorm situations or were overused cliches. The Vshow works when it picks on little things across campus, this time there just wasn't witty writing and the production team dropped the ball on mics and the like.

  22. reaction  

    this was a very poor production. i appreciate the hard work put in, put in general the writing was awful, self-congratulatory, and unfunny. i agree that any random person couldn't have fixed the show, but if the writers had shown a draft to four or five intelligent people with sense of humor, they would immediately have found out that their script was dull and comedically lackluster.

    Several notes:

    1. Jokes about engineers being nerds are not funny. In fact, any joke that has been made more that 150,000 times in the past is not funny.
    2. The same goes for jokes about people in GS being old. There were at least a dozen of these.
    3. The Bwog comment joke was funny once. Not three times.
    4. The entire second act was superfluous.
    5. The would-be-transfer was strong, as was Quigley, but that's about it. Some other folks had good voices, but the writing was across-the-board terrible, so that made no difference. Maybe if the people on the Varsity Show spent a little more time trying to recruit some outside talent (and by talent, I mean people who don't write jokes I knew with punchlines you know in advance, ie "If you wanted to go to school somewhere isolated, you would have gone to Cornell."

    Anyway, hard work appreciated. But a brutal, brutal three hours.

  23. my last v show  

    and it was horrid!!! i am so disappointed by the weak writing, the shoddy storyboarding, no character development and frankly, messy choreography that had had so many cast members strewn all over the stage as if the claireographer had no idea what the word "formation" means. Tap dance scene was unnecessary, drunken revelry scene was silly to the point of yawning.

    Up on the balcony, us seniors were asking our neighbors what was just said more than listening to the show because WE JUST COULDN'T A HEAR A GODDAMN THING ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK. Thank god Quigley's lines were not lost in the terrible mike problems.

    The singing, on the other hand, was phenomenal. I have never heard such wonderful singers on stage before, even though their songs made no sense, didn't contribute to the story line or was just drowned out by the orchestra.

    I wanted my last V show to go out with a bang. In the end, it was just a very long, 3-hour whimper that no senior was eager to get back to after the food at intermission.

  24. truth  

    the fact of the matter it is clear that the entire production team didnt have a clue what they were doing and any negative criticism they get is well deserved. for those saying, be fair, it is being fair. maybe they will have their shit together next time. this was the most over-indulgent varsity show ive seen yet. over 3 hours? really? not to mention the wasted talent in the show. Nina as a sidekick? Yonatan as 10 versions of the same character? Emily subjugated to 2 lines? And why weren't the best singers given more to sing? I'd much rather hear Jill and Emily sing then hear a string of repetitive, not funny jokes, or watch an unfocused, badly directed show like this again. what a waste of talent

  25. completely agree  

    with the comment on the acoustics in the senior section. Couldn't hear a goddamn word for half the show. Really poor mic work.

  26. Utterly  

    underwhelming. From the writing to the choreograph to the direction, V115 was miserable across the board.

    After last year's show, I had high hopes. Too bad it absolutely sucked.

  27. didn't entertain?  

    friday night the room was roaring with laughter nearly without stop from beginning to end. granted it was definitely too long, several of the songs were just unnecessary, and the sound was shitty, it still managed to entertain, without question. and considering the laughs the show got, i don't think there's much of an argument against that. flawed, sure, but still very entertaining.

    fuck off, people.

    • Euh I was there  

      "friday night the room was roaring with laughter nearly without stop from beginning to end"

      That's just a lie.

      I don't get why people are offended with negative reactions. No one's being vindictive, no one's trash talking; we're giving our individual opinions which all happen to agree on the same thing:

      Strong cast- Weak overall show. Get over it.

      If you loved it thats great! Say why! Don't take this personal.

  28. disappointed  

    with all of the talent on the boards for this production, it honestly could have been so much better. I know they had a lot of trouble communicating/getting it together in terms of disagreements on the cast/creative team side, but honestly, that's the shit you need to get over in order to produce good work. the varsity show is not for you; it's for everyone else.

    also, no show-stopping numbers in 114? ummmmm STRONG BEAUTIFUL, enough said!!

  29. WTF  

    In reply to number 37,
    WTF WTF WTF F F F F F.

  30. Tina Fey

    Ethan and I both thought the programs were really easy to read.

  31. To be fair  

    As much as the show had flaws and could have been an hour shorter, I'd hate to see its strengths drowned out in the Bwog echo chamber. The Friday night show, at least, had the audience laughing and applauding frequently.

  32. a second opinion  

    I loved the show! I thought everything about it was wonderful, besides the sound. The music was interesting and brilliant! I laughed so much, and the story was hilarious. I will always remember seeing this. I feel like a lot of people here just have sticks up their butts or something. They need to embrace life more and be happy

    • Uh.  

      No offense dear but sounds like you're just tripping bubbles about everything and the show just happens to exist therefore summoning butterflies for you.

      It's a pretty big stretch to assume that anyone who doesn't like everything is bitter about life.

  33. strange choices  

    All four schools have great quirks to build off of, which is why I thought the way the characters were written was...bizarre.

    At the same time, very strong cast and I recognize that the writers had less material to work with this year. But I think if they had shaved the running time down it could have been a tighter show.

  34. sound  

    disclaimer: I'm not a sound engineer and I'm in no way connected to the tech for this show.

    The mixing for this show was probably ridiculously complicated.

    Think about it: You've got the orchestra being mic'ed into the stage monitors (the actors hear the orchestra through separate speakers from the audience) from the ramp lounge because that orchesis girl fell into the pit, so they weren't allowed to use it for the production, and you've got the singers being mic'ed into the ramp lounge so that the orchestra can hear the singers, who only get to see the conductor via videofeed. What the audience has to hear is a mix of those two groups of separate mics (all of which need to be adjusted separately). That's more than 20 separate microphones that all have to get managed individually and get sent to two separate places. That's a lot more than you would usually have to manage for a musical, probably. Furthermore, if either one of those monitor feeds stops working, then either the cast can't hear the orchestra or the orchestra can't hear the cast and the whole thing breaks down.

    If the orchestra doesn't have a monitor that plays what THEY sound like to the audience back to them, so all they probably have to go off for balance is what they can hear in the room, so the orchestra can't adjust volume to the singers very easily and is basically completely dependent on the mixers to get the balance right. Anyone know if the orchestra can hear what it actually sounds like?

    Sounds like a sound nightmare to me. 20+ individual mic's, two different sets of monitoring systems, all the balance, and an overall mix for the audience.

    With all that, it's no wonder the sound sucked.

    • whoa  

      1. When did this Orchesis incident happen?

      2. That setup is the most ridiculously complicated stage tech I've ever heard of. No wonder they were having issues. I didn't even know the orchestra was up there.

    • whatsworse  

      All that mic and sound setup -- needs to be done in 1 week. Well, barely even a week.

      That said, sucky sound still sucks and will obviously blemish a show. Who to blame for it - - well, I think one can spread the blame around.

      • inside scoop  

        Yes, sound massively SUCKED. The sound crew needs to get their act together. They did NOT put in the same time and effort as the creative team and the cast and are simply not knowledgeable about their equipment. The person doing sound (won't name names) is let's say chummy with the producer so he got to do it even though he is EXTREMELY INCOMPETENT. The fact that sound did a terrible job for the SECOND night in a row is a complete insult to the musicians, composers and actors who have worked EXTRAORDINARILY HARD to make a great show.

        All the stuff about the pit is true. I spoke with the head of Orchesis about it. Columbia is still being idiotic though. You can't get good sound in Roone if you put the musicians in another room.

        I hope the V-Show team next year gets a hardworking, competent sound team and puts the musicians in Roone, so this disaster never happens again.

        • Senior  

          Either last year or the year before or maybe both, the orchestra was in the room and part of the set. They were in a little house or something. I see no reason they couldn't have done that this year. It's not that hard to built a little hut for the orchestra off to the side of the stage, call it a Columbia landmark, and not have the sound suck. Whoever decided to put the orchestra in the piano lounge (really?!) is a fucking idiot.

    • The orchestra  

      cannot hear what the mix sounds like in the auditorium. All they hear is what gets picked up on the actors' mics. Additionally, the sound board is in charge of when the orchestra is turned on at all, so if the sound board misses that cue, the orchestra starts to play and nobody can hear it. It seems like a seriously flawed system.

  35. whhhhaaaaaaat?  

    long story short. Not a bad show. very enjoyable. but definitely a long show. could have been shorter. could have been funnier. I digged the music though, and I loved the cast :)

  36. some brilliant work  

    The waltz of the drunken hookup was brilliant! I can't think of another example of a theatrical song that used meter to represent the action so well. The meter switched between 5/4, and then switched from 3/4 to 2/4 all over the place. It was awesome! Along with the choreographers, it made the actors really seem drunk! Very cool!

    I'm going to see it again tomorrow...though i kind of don't want to...

  37. the writers...  

    ...seemed like they had real talent. i'm not sure that completely shined through, but i think they should be congratulated on getting through an incredibly intense year -- they wrote an entire musical, and that's beyond impressive. and the cast was great.

    also, the bar was set incredibly high considering the brilliance of last year's show. i don't think it's unreasonable to point out weaknesses and disappointments in the show, because there were a fair number of them, but considering what a year it must have been pulling it together, i think the creative team deserves a least a little bit of credit for that.

  38. AHAHAHA  

    51, 55, and 56 are all connor spahn. NICE TRY

  39. my opinion  

    I think some of the reaction may be in light of how good last year's show was, and that is a pretty tough standard to beat. It definitely wasn't as funny, but then again, not as much material to work with.

    Overall I enjoyed it, since it is hard not to if you can hear the lines (which I sometimes couldn't, but usually could from the "premium" seating). I wanna-be transfer was really good, fantastic singing voice. I enjoyed Nina's/GS's performance (though I'm biased, I know her), which I think has been underrated.

    I do think the weakest part was the writing. As has been said here already, many jokes were predictable. That being said, there were some very funny lines, though nothing as good as "we don't have homosexuals at Barnard" or any near-standing-O quotes.

    Anyway, if you are thinking of seeing it Sunday and tix aren't sold out, it is a worthwhile 3 hours. It does drag on, but you'll laugh and will be glad you at least got to see what everyone is talking about.

  40. what I  

    can't understand is why Act 1 was twice as long as the second

  41. connor spahn  

    wants to apologize. He was very drunk but loves the rest of V115 and wanted them to see some positive comments before having to do two more shows. Fail. Love,
    -Connor Spahn

  42. sam freedlander  

    the cu assassins stuff didn't show the players' cock sucking doucehbagerry enough. SHAME FOR SHAME.

  43. Let's not forget  

    how amazing the set was. The bulletin board that turned into a dorm room? Genius! Quigley's office? Funnier than the show itself! Flying in the John Jay doors from above? Inspired!

    Scenic design crew, you are often the unsung heroes of VShow. So I'm singing you. Well done.

  44. oh no

    I consider a few people in the cast and crew my good friends, so I went in REALLY, REALLY wanting to like the show.

    I just couldn't.

    I'm sorry, you guys.

  45. orchesis and the pit  

    In response to 1:
    This is what I heard: at an Orchesis rehearsal about a month ago, some girl was late for rehearsal and was running to jump onto the stage and didn't notice that the pit was open (10 foot deep hole in the ground in front of the stage). She fell and broke her leg and sued Columbia for not having the guard rails up during Orchesis' rehearsal or something like that. It's the subject of a lawsuit, so no one's been allowed to use the pit.

    How much of that is truth, I don't know.

  46. well  

    last year, the orchestra was in the pit, and the year before, it was a much smaller band, so it worked to put them in a little hut. this year, it was a full orchestra, so that wouldn't have worked.

  47. ricky  

    is a douche, and got all of his friends to comment on here really negtively. because he got kicked out, he's being really vindictive.

    seriously, from someone working on the show- darcy and becca did a good job. everyone knew what was going on, and everything got done. they aren't to blame for sound mishaps, and they really tried their hardest- they both basically lived in roone this past week while everything was getting done.

    • Ricky  

      So I was informed of some of the accusatory remarks that have been made about me on this page and so I figured that I needed to address a few things.

      1. I've been on Long Island playing piano at a Bar Mitzvah all day. My suitemates know this. Nonsequitur knows this. I couldn't have written on bwog today.
      2. Not now, nor have I ever, had a problem speaking my mind openly about what I thought of the Vshow process. For me, it was a disaster. I've said this to the production team (and the cast knows it) so I don't need to be afraid of what they'll think of me after saying this. I would not need to hide behind an anonymous board. This is why I included my email address in this post. Not to mention, as someone else pointed out, the way the process is described in the "Darcy and Will" post says things that I know aren't true. For instance, I bumped into Becky and Matt writing songs on several occasions and if asked, I would never have said that Becky wrote the songs and Matt the orchestrations. This isn't true and anyone in Vshow should be well aware that I know this.
      3. In response to number 79, this is a perfect example of what went so horribly wrong in this show. This post was clearly written by a production team member. The cast members know that the circumstances of my departure from Vshow were ridiculous, albeit hilarious, and I would hope that they would not refer to me as a douche. The good thing is, the only members of the production team whose opinion of me I care about, are the ones that I consider my friends. If you are one of those people who walk in front of me a dozen times without so much as a hello after working together every day for months, you can consider yourself out of this group and I fully suspect that this comment was posted by one of you (For the record, I am only referring to two or three specific members of the team, by no means the team as a whole).
      4. Any of the problems that I had with the show were based on nothing personal at all. There are people who know that and people who don't. My criticisms were taken too personally, hence the situation that happened.
      5. As for comment 81, I appreciate your support. My critiques of the process started in one place and got larger and larger. If I didn't have tact, its because there was no time for tact and I don't regret the things I said or did. I was miserable. Most of us were miserable. Those close enough to me know that I nearly quit on many occasions, making my being "fired" all the more hilarious and pointless. I never said that I was more talented or deserving than anyone else, but you are right, I do have experience, and so I did see ways that things could be better and I tried to help. What is important to remember is that I was not the only experienced member of the Vshow and I was certainly not the only one trying to make it better, I was just the loudest and apparently most offensive.
      6. As for my opinions of the show itself, all I will say is that it came together. I'm not going to be vindictive and say it was horrible for two reasons. The first is that it wasn't. I didn't talk to anyone who loved the show, but almost no one who I talked to hated it either. From where I was sitting, the audience seemed to be laughing quite a bit. It was problematic yes, but not atrocious. The cast have always been incredibly talented and they shown through. Claire's choreography was as good as I've always said it was. And yes, the time signature of the Drunken Waltz, I have always considered to be quite brilliant. My specific kudos go to Connor because while it was an incredibly irresponsible decision to let me go a month before the show, creating a rift in the cast, and making my replacement's job incredibly difficult. You never seemed out of place or unsure of what you were doing. That is incredibly impressive with all you learned in such a short amount of time. The second reason is that the cast members and several of the production team members are people that I still consider to be my friends. I don't agree that just because they put in a lot of hard work, the show shouldn't be criticized, but we ALL put in a crazy amount of work and I wouldn't betray my friends' efforts by making the show out to be worse than it was just because my time was wasted. My grudge is not against them, it is against the process that we all went through together so why would I intentionally try to make them feel bad?

      Finally, I know that this was a massively large post and came way after the fact (again, I just got back from Long Island) but I needed to get this off of my chest. After everything that I went through with/for the show, the last thing I needed was for someone working on the show to blame me for making comments that I didn't even make. If you were willing to say something like that on a public forum like Bwog, than I am more than willing to say something back. If you want to hear me back talk the process, the people, or whatever you want, say so to my face and I'll tell you whatever you want to hear. Call me, text me, e-mail me, IM me, facebook chat me. I dare you.

      Remember that while others might have, I never broke the rules. I never broke any part of the contract we all signed. If you have a problem with me, its a personal problem, not a professional one, so please step up and say something instead of hiding behind an anonymous board just because YOU were hurt that the posters on BWOG didn't like your show. That is not my fault so I would appreciate it if the blame was laid where it is deserved.

  48. Cool it, kids.  

    Ricky is not a monster, and I'm pretty sure he didn't make that post. And if he did, he's probably right. As much as Ricky's professional theatre career might make him seem egotistical to you, it still means that he knows much more about how to make a good musical than most people on this campus. Thems just the facts.

    Also, he should be relieved rather than vindictive to have been fired, because I wouldn't want my name attached to a show of that quality if I were him. The creative team made the first mistake in casting him as ensemble and expecting him not to be critical of the process in which all cast/chorus are traditionally involved. Maybe, if they had listened to Ricky, it would have been a better show.

    If all of these commenters were unhappy with the quality of this year's show, imagine how frustrating it must have been for Ricky -- and a lot of the other equally talented but more tactful cast members, I'm sure -- to have to say "Ok!" to terrible creative decisions.

  49. motha goose again  

    i just want to say one more thing. these people who worked on this show are your peers. it's not a broadway show and you didn't have to pay $100 to see it. it's a goddamn school play. take it easy, people, and relax. the scathing comments that take you 2 seconds to write and then escape from your mind live long after you sign off and resonate deeply with the people you're writing about. people in the varsity show are obviously people who would appreciate honest, nonjudgmental feedback; presumably since they've committed so much time, they want to know how people respond.

    but i'd like to remind you all that for a student body where so many people are committed to saving the world and fighting social injustice, it is awfully sad that you can't treat the people around you with some kindness. these people are reading what you're writing; their families and friends can read what you're writing. even though you can remain anonymous, is it worth it to be so cruel?
    that's all.

  50. Disappointed Senior  

    This was easily the worst varsity show of my 4 years here. The only good parts of the show were the art direction (well done Cayle), Giselle, and Pat Blute. Nina was good at moments. Everything else was terrible. The choreography, when not being stolen from Broadway shows (can anyone say tap dance from 42nd Street), was all stolen from previous shows at Columbia. The sound design was awful and the direction was uninspired. The casting was not very good (other than the people mentioned above). I think the show would have been 10 times better without Emma, Adam, and Kendale. Jill Shackner, Morgan, and Ricky (previously cut from the ensemble) were the best singers involved and should have been given more material to work with. Which leads me to the worst of the bad. The music was awful. For an original show, the music didn't sit well in the voices of the performers at all. I don't understand the attachment to the exorcism song because it sucks. It has sucked in every incarnation of its lifespan. Maybe next year they will pick a composer who can actually write music instead of plunking around at a keyboard and calling it music.

  51. good show  

    This review makes me really sad because commentators are treating it like it's the only opinion out there. There are other opinions about the Varsity Show. Mine, for instance. I disagree pretty strongly with the Bwog review - I actually thought it was a great show! Ok, true, the sound was disastrous, but the acting, writing, music, direction, etc. were all great! I especially like the CU Assassins jokes, the Bwog comment bits (maybe even funnier now that I'm writing one, actually), the Dean song, the drunk song, and the Gabrielle song. Good job, everyone involved! (Good luck fixing things, sound people!)

    • Broadway police  

      Also, Gabrielle's Act 1 song (while performed well by Giselle) was stolen from The Producers. It was basically the same song as "I Wanna Be a Producer". Original? It was when Mel Brooks wrote it.

      • Golden Nugget  

        from last year's show was essentially "Glory" from Pippin. Still an excellent song. It happens.

        What's more eerie are the connections to last year's plot . . . outgoing administrator glomming onto new sidekick . . . refugee camp . . . etc.

  52. consine sine  

    at least the beginning part of cosine-sine was original. that was good.

  53. the blue pencil  

    That show needed serious editing. Three hours long? Are you insane? People have maybe two hours of patience for theatre. And there is a very good explanation; the Varsity Show is a cult. After spending 24 hrs a day together for 6 months, they totally lose the ability to make objective artistic decisions.

  54. i liked  

    the barnard student. i loved that she's an actual barnard student.

  55. solid cast

    Last year's show was much more cohesive, but i will say that the cast this year was a million times better (with the exception of sarah dooley, who was greatly missed this year). Every member of the ensemble was just as strong as the leads. Giselle, Yonaton, and Pat Blute were incredible. Emma's character was pretty unrealistic and super unappealing (maybe she would have made more sense if Columbia was Vanderbilt), but she's a talented little performer. She sounds and moves like she's right out of an Irving Berlin show or something. Shout out to Jill and Morgan who were certainly two of the most talented people in the cast. I'm not quite sure what the chorus would have been without them--probably really shitty. The writing of last year's show was a million times better, but the ensemble from last year couldn't hold a candle to this year's cast. Congrats to a wonderfully talented group of performers. It's a pity that the show was so long and plotless.

    • ii dont know  

      114s ensemble did absolutely nothing because thats what was written for them. this year they gave all the bit parts to the ensemble. also, the ensemble were the only ones who could dance last year. allie, jenny, and sophie? best voices in the show by far.

    • I thought  

      that 114's cast was was great. 115 had amazingly strong voices all around, but Sarah, Kieron, Michael, Will, Lauren and the others all took their characters and ran with them, so much so that a year later, you still remember them clearly. Plus, the ensemble was incredibly good--Allie, Emily, and Jenny have some of the strongest voices in the theater department, probably better than most of the principles too. The cast was definitely the highlight of 115 (well, that and maybe the bulletin board/dorm room), but I definitely would not say that 114 couldn't hold a candle to them.

      115 was hardly the disaster that some of these post are making it out to be, but it certainly was nowhere near the level of 114. I think that 114 had both an exceptional cast and creative team, and that's just not going to happen every year.

  56. ummmmmm  

    does anyone know how to change your meal plan?

  57. my god  

    i'm a member of the vshow pit, and while we've had to deal with some unfortunate tech stuff (all of which have been aforementioned), i think that this shit-thunderstorm is totally unmerited. i don't understand why any of you think you have the authority to undermine something to which so many people have dedicated their lives over the past months. we've seen the show a million times, and find new material to laugh at a million times.
    the bottom line, for me, is this - imagine creating something that you love and having anonymous people shitting on it for pages and pages on bwog. there is no reason for any of you to spend your lives insulting the cteam, cast, et al., except if you are pissed off that you weren't talented enough to involve yourself with vshow.

    • get real  

      Are you aware that this happens in theatre? What do you think newspaper critics do? People write shows; they get critiqued. Welcome to the world of theatre. Get over it.

      • "getting real"  

        fair enough - criticism is an inherent aspect of any performance. in fact, i think a lot of what bwog said in its relatively critical review was accurate (except for the fact that it "didn't entertain;" that was a little unfair). however, this is not broadway. you are not fucking ben brantley. so yes, i'm completely aware that this stuff happens in theater (or theatre, if you're a prick), but this is NOT a professional thing. everyone complains ad nauseaum about all the schoolwork they have; imagine doing a show for 4-5 hours every day on top of that. it's just frustrating to see students be so malicious, and that was my overriding point. critique as much as you want, but for the sake of your peers who have worked hard on this, try not to wage an attack.

        • for real?  

          "so yes, i'm completely aware that this stuff happens in theater (or theatre, if you're a prick)"

          ...or if you are anyone. That's a perfectly acceptable spelling... Also I don't think anyone was attacking. People were criticizing things that could have been better. The only person attacking anyone is you, attacking the poster you replied to. Also, I am guessing a lot of people commenting have done a show on top of their schoolwork at Columbia. I have done it several times, so before you site schoolwork as an excuse for poor theatrical choices, look at some of Columbia's successful productions, which have required students to participate in long rehearsals on top of their everyday work.

  58. It's not just theater  

    Almost everything large scale at Columbia is critiqued by students on and off Bwog--productions, publications, elections, you name it. It's part of the culture, albeit a relatively icky part.

  59. broadway, hollywood,

    everyone gets critiqued. If you are performing, you will be critiqued. Most of these comments rave about the cast. People have the right to express their opinions about a show that they spent 3 hours sitting through and paid money to attend. I understand how hard everyone worked, but if we all just sat there and said everything was perfect...well, that just wouldn't be real life at all. We go to college, so we should be able to handle criticism (my 3rd grade art class got critiqued). Don't perform or write if you can't handle criticism. If you're "shitting" on the show (a few commenters are), then that's inappropriate (this is bwog...who is really that surprised?). However, most of these comments don't seem to be "shitting" on the show. It's just people stating their reactions to the production.

    I had a lot of fun last night. Thanks, V115!

  60. I see your point  

    and really agree.
    I do think some people (seniors especially) are unhappy because they care really deeply about this tradition and were a little disappointed that it didn't live up to expectations (which is largely a fault of how good v-show was last year). People are freaking out about sound because it was super hard to hear, and that does make it hard to enjoy a show. For all half these people know, the music was great and the jokes were funny, but they just couldn't hear a damn thing, so they don't know.
    I do hope no one ever decides to put the orchestra in another room again. I saw Cinderella last weekend, and they put the orchestra on the floor and it sounded great. why didnt they just do that for this show, too?
    anyway, i do think people are being hypercritical. It wasn't awful. There were some really great moments and universally excellent performances. Can't you just applaud the work of your peers and leave it at that?

  61. Question...  

    What do u call a crappy varsity show?






    ...A Varshitty show!

  62. Perspective  

    Alright, as someone who worked on last year's show, I just want to say that every varsity show has it's strengths and its weaknesses. I saw the show last night and judging by the audience reaction, yes it was long, yes there were sound problems, but you can't ignore the fact that everyone was laughing and having a blast. The varsity show spends all year working to basically create something for the students. They have work and classes, but they still put all their time into the project for you. They do this for fun. So feel free to compliment and criticize, but just remember that the varsity show is still just a piece of student theater made for the students. I mean, come on. You paid 5 bucks.

  63. shm114

    114 is in the past. get over it. we all liked it. but it's dead now. 115 was lame.

    man i'm sad about stuff.

  64. actually  

    i thought v114 was terrible; v115 was better, and if you want really good musical theater -- get tickets to OTHER campus shows. there's more to columbia theater than the v show

    • amen!  

      I agree with you about other Columbia musical theatre being better. I saw Cinderella last weekend and thought it was excellent. Especially considering that one of the cast members hurt herself right before the show and the director had to step in. When they made the announcement before the show, I thought it was going to be really bad. I was pleasantly surprised.

  65. whyyy!!!????  

    ugh, 115 blowed! i read the program like 3 times because i was so damn bored!

    the actors were great tho. SEAS girl was my favorite. the writers were shit. absolute shit. ughhhhh im so pissed at the three of you.

    too much tap dancing!!!!!

  66. sigh  

    sigh i was one of the people who left during intermission... if they only held intermission 30 minutes earlier so I could have gotten at least 30 min back of my life

  67. Jill Shackner's hair

    is amazing

  68. Hey Fellow Lions!  

    So how should I rank my rooming options for next year? I'm a freshman and don't know how Bwog works, but I'm hoping the 117 of you who have taken the time to rip this show apart and simultaneously build it back up might have equally definite and passionate opinions about this life or death decision. Thanks for the help and I look forward to meeting all of you in person next year!!!!

    • your ranking  

      does not matter. It's almost completely random what they put you in. I was put in my 6th ranked choice.

    • oh, and  

      you don't want to meet these people. Wait, what am I saying? Bwog commenters are not people.

    • Depends what you want  

      If you want a single without sacrificing a social life, put John Jay first.

      If you want the "WHOOO COLLEGE!" experience and wouldn't mind a double, put Carman first.

      If you want a single, air conditioning, clean bathrooms, and quiet, put a Furnald single first.

      If you don't care so much about the cleanliness of your living situation, but you want to have a family-esque experience with sophomores who supposedly want to get to you know you too, choose the LLC.

      NB: Singles in the LLC are tiny, and doubles are huge. John Jay really is the best compromise of everything. Carman isn't quite as wild as it may have been during your Days on Campus, but there will always be parties there on weekends. Some former Furnald singles are being changed into doubles this year, which means tiny doubles, which means don't request one. And however you choose to rank these options may or may not have any actual effect on your placement.

      Hope that helps.

      PS: You seem eager. That's nice, but you might want to cool it when you first get on campus, so as not to scare people away. Columbia kids aren't mean, but we tend to be at least somewhat jaded with life and school spirit, and happiness.

  69. The key to a good show...  

    is CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. There was none. NONE. Everything else can be excused but this is like Writing 101 people come on.

  70. good lord

    Ok, we can all agree it was a weaker than last year, and please anyone who writes the vshow next year, take a red pen to that shit and CUT scenes. But every year I'm amazed that people at the school where no one has time can turn out a full musical. So kudos to that. If last year's show wasn't so spectacular, this would have been pretty good, it's just too bad we have to compare.

  71. brilliant  

    YONATAN AND PAT YOU ARE AMAZING.
    AMAZING.

  72. not enough  

    Barnard jokes

  73. keyboard  

    Does anyone know who was on keyboard?? Whoever it was was REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Really clear sound, wonderfully played - exceptional keyboardist! Reveal yourself!

  74. YOU DID IT!!!!!  

    sunday night was the best show!! it ran really smoothly and the sound was great. congrats to everyone you did it!!!! i'm so proud of you. everyone who's making evil comments should realize how hard this whole process was and how much work it takes to write and rewrite the show in such a short time. i hope to see a lot of the cast back next year since a lot of them were sophs and freshman. i love you all. ignore all these bastards!!

  75. no not v-show plant  

    just support for friends...wish people in this community could show some respect and support for their peers.

  76. it was okay and so...  

    i left during intermission.

  77. well  

    the choreography really made me want to throw up. it was absolutely atrocious.

    i think the show had a lot of potential for good things but it just didn't come together as it should have.

    • nah  

      I disagree so strongly. Claire, the choreography was beautiful. "Drunken Waltz;" "Downtown"... the cast was unbelievably talented, everyone agrees, and one reason is that you knew how to show their best in dancing. Don't listen to these assholes; you did an amazing job and we love you.

  78. Why?  

    Why does bwog seem to attract the worst Columbia has to offer? Hint to any incoming freshman.... don't let what some of the jerks on this site say jade your view. This is not the norm.

  79. it's a pity  

    it's a pity the length of the show tainted everyone's view of the content. yes, it was too long, and the ages it took for scene changes didn't help. but regardless of how long of a show i had to sit through, it was very funny. and judging from the rest of the audience reaction, everyone else thought so too. there were times when people broke into applause for some jokes and recurring characters. as for the music, i also think people wouldn't have much to complain about if they were in the context of a slimmer script (and a passable sound system). they were fun and catchy - i've still got "gabrielle" in my head. i don't know enough about music to know what this famous time signature in "drunken waltz" was, but i thought it was hilarious. and the choreography was hands-down the best of any varsity show i've seen. i'm not saying there weren't problems with the show, god knows there were enough to go around just with sound, but i think these problems are being projected onto the show's content, which is simply inaccurate. good job, all, just remember to edit next time.

  80. In praise of music...  

    Let me first say that judging the music after hearing each song only ONCE is moronic. How often do you hear a song for the first time and absolutely love it? Music is something that grows on you, and certain songs that you dismiss at first can become your favorite songs of all time one day.
    That said, what can be stated after a first listening of V115's music is that almost every song had at least four part harmonies, beautifully blended and balanced. For a musical, such intricate harmony is rare and usually only found in a finale number or the main anthem of the show, but I can think of only two songs in V115 that didn't have more than 4 part harmony...impressive. The composers of this show knew how to write for voices, and I look forward to being able to get the music off the website in the near future.

    • amendment  

      "moronic" is a strong word. judging the music too strongly after one listen is a little imprudent

    • euh  

      So I'm supposed to work myself 2-3 times over to like songs?

      Showtunes should be catchy. Period.
      Wicked is a musical I saw and you know how, I was enjoying the tunes as they were playing. Last year's FB song stuck in my head after hearing it once.

      You're fool of poo.

      • agreed  

        all the songs all sounded the same. Whatever happened to a variety of songs? There were no standout numbers. And I have my suspicions that towards the end, the music was done at the last minute because all I heard were dinky keyboard melodies with atrocious lyrics.

        • musician/engineer  

          Everything sounded the same because it was improperly mixed from the worst sound system I've heard in a long time. Everything was flat because apparently the orchestra was in a far away room, being completely controlled by a sound board operated by people who clearly don't know music and who were too busy dealing with feedback to realize how flat it sounded and spend the time to fix it. I saw instruments playing that I could barely hear. I have an idea what we heard was not true to whatever was written, so I just feel bad for the composers. I'm waiting to hear the recording whenever it comes out.

      • what  

        FB song? It's not in the online soundtrack...

        • FB song  

          That's because it wasn't in last years show. It was in the orientation week preview which they do every year. The FB song has been around for a long time, so people who think it was in last year's show are clearly new students this year.

          In reference to the person who has "Gabrielle" stuck in his or her head, listen to the Grease soundtrack sometime. "Those Magic Changes" has basically the same melody.

          And in response to the person who commented about 4 part harmonies...WHAT? The few ones that did have noticeable harmonies sounded awful because the cast couldn't find their parts. Also, 4 part harmony isn't required to make a song good. A good base is required, and that was rarely present.

          • facebook song  

            Assuming they hadn't written another facebook song since i'm a geezer:
            http://www.thevarsityshow.com/pastshowpages/2005-the-sound-of-muses
            Track 12 "Whatever I can get"

            Boy, that was a great varsity show

          • what?  

            "a good base is required"?! that doesn't mean anything. do you know anything about music? Gabrielle and Magic Changes have completely different melodies aside from "whats that playing on the radio" and "Gabrielle oh gabrielle". and what about the harmonies in that song? there was a freaking barbershop quartet, it was brilliant. And once the entire ensemble came in, it got even more complex. Maybe you're just tone deaf and can't hear harmonies?

          • uh...  

            "Gabrielle oh gabrielle"/ swell / "as far as I can tell"?????

            The lyrics sucked.

            It's like Star Wars Episode 1: it may have cool special effects, but everything else sucked.

  81. Boo  

    Awful Varsity Show. Not a single joke that meant anything special to Columbia. I am going to listen to old shows online and pretend this year never happened now.

  82. interestingly enough  

    "Those Magic Changes" was sung by Sha Na Na, all Columbia alumni, at least one of whom was involved in the Varsity Show (Jon Bauman, '69).

    COINCIDENCE????

  83. Guess what?  

    Quigley did see it, twice. Front row. And he said he loved it

  84. Just another critic  

    V115 was brilliantly realized from a technical perspective. And the basic core of the writing was very good. They just didn't know where to edit, especially in terms of songs/song length. The Hallelujah Man song was needlessly long. (Also, Emma Goidel should not have attempted that ending. That was without a doubt the WORST moment in the show.) The point of that number could have been conveyed in half the time. Same for "Gabrielle." "Downtown" didn't need to happen at all.

    It's a musical. Music is needed. But that music should move the plot along, not pause it for eight minutes. Oy.

  85. Taki 181

    Now that it's the next night, the taste still lingers. What a disservice to the cast, to have a "musical" known more for the self-conscious egoism of its producers than for the music itself, to have spirited choreography distracted by hideous sound management, to have great visuals as scenery but be hobbled by wooden, unfunny dialog. Pat was the saving grace, a British Buster Poindexter who self-confidently made the most of a 3+ hour dirge. Giselle was earnest and likable, comfortable in her role. The sound management, need I repeat myself, sucked to the most extraordinary degree of almost ruining the show.

    With the exception of cult figure Yonatan who sparked screams of delirious joy from legions of adoring 14 year old female voices with each appearance onstage, the rest of the ensemble was wasted. Yonatan was at least given a chance to showcase his considerable talent, but Emily with her Met-quality voice was thrown in a corner and Jill who could sing and act rings around most of the cast and who might have pulled the show together into a cohesive whole, wasn't given half a chance.

    On the plus side the playbill was a winner, the imaginativeness of the set was obvious, and the choreography and dance numbers came off really well considering the level of skill of many of those onstage. I don't see any point in comparing to other years, the cast gives its all every year and deserves recognition for hundreds of hours of rehearsals. But ultimately the blame falls on the undisciplined producers and writers for thinking that their self-congratulation and imagined talent could somehow overcome three hours of mostly forgettable semi-humor. Not. The cast and the audience both suffered for it.

  86. oh.hello.there

    I LOVE YOU MORGAN FLETCHER.
    Hey everyone - its over. Leave these wonderfully talented people to bask in post VShow glory. My own opinions have already been posted, so I'm not going to simply rehash what someone else has said.

    Regardless, congrats on all your hard work. You're all quite amazing.

  87. Ruhi

    The choreography was absolutely ATROCIOUS!

  88. Tyranny  

    Of the majority?

  89. the music  

    was great! the plot, not so much...

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