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The 116th Annual Varsity Show Preview

Bwog crowded into the mystical back room of Havana Central to see the preview of The 116th Annual Varsity Show.

Alex Hare, Jenny Vallancourt, Yonatan Gebeyehu, and Chorus

Upon receiving an invitation to a student production, every administrator must blanch with fear. Given the last two Varsity Shows’ penchant for administrative caricatures, it’s a wonder Deans Shollenberger and Denburg showed up at all. But there they were, in the front row, ready to witness yet another show hosted by and centered around administrators and their personal struggles.

Thank goodness, then, for the one-liners: these were the highlight of the evening. Our favorite character, an over eager CC’er played by Pat Blute (V115‘s Quigley), can’t help but spoil the end of every CC book for the rest of the class: “I read Matthew…you won’t believe what happens to Jesus!” The scene perfectly captured the the frustrations and absurdities of the Core, with the professor giving a perfect grad student nod and assuring us, “If you stay an academic like me, the real world is just a show on MTV!”

A gold star must be given to perennial favorite Yonatan Gebeyehu as our oft-forgotten mascot Roar-ee. His powerful voice and expression-filled face carried the opening scene and we look forward to seeing his character develop in the real show. The talented Jenny Vallancourt sashayed and waggled her eyebrows as she read a meal plan-like e-mail from Denburg using the voice that most of us imagined in our heads.

Alex Hare nailed Shollenberger’s (“Please, call me Kevin”) awkward chuckle and informed a delighted crowd of his hair product of choice (Pomade). Hannah Kloepfer stormed onto the floor as a Miss Gulch-like Denburg, taking the audience by surprise, and proceeded to chastise Shollenburger for trying to win student opinion with offers of free food.

And that seemed to be the plot focus: Dean Shollenberger is trying to connect with students but only knows how to do so by offering free food. His character could have been any generic administrator trying to understand student culture (who really knows him personally anyway?). Hare and Kloepfer set up the age-old V-Show formula of a domineering administrator and a few old souls just trying to do the right thing.

Alex Hare and Hannah Kloepfer

Along with that came the obligatory jokes, seemingly pulled at random from a stack of old V-Show scripts. There was the imaginary CC vs. GS vs. SEAS vs. Barnard civil war, the aged GS student, and the hipsters caring too much about not caring. In the opening scene, Roar-ee was far too enthusiastic about the Lions vs. (CUNY) Beavers game, sparking a passionate—but forgettable—ditty whose chorus of “We don’t care” was sung by our perfectly apathetic on-stage representations. The song set up the dark perspective of the preview: we students really couldn’t care less about the school, the community, or even our coursework. This leaves the administrators to carry the plot, and herein lies the flaw of this V-Show and its predecessors.

We want us, V-Show, not them! We want compelling student characters, not a new administrator to giggle at awkwardly in the front row year after year. The writers clearly have the talent to diagnose our malaise, but they have instead chosen to examine far-fetched situations taking place behind the locked doors of the Columbia administration. Just this once, instead of a view from inside the ivory tower, we’d like to sample the perspective from College Walk. It’s not our chosen colleges that divide us and it’s not the frat parties that unite us. It’s the little things: the Hamilton elevator and Wilma’s omelets, loud pianos in Lerner and late-night runs to HamDel.

We see our culture here as Students vs. Columbia. It’s not war among ourselves; it’s a collective struggle to survive. In the 70 days between now and the night when V116‘s curtains rise, the talented team behind this year’s production might do well to remember this—give us a longer look in the mirror rather than a glimpse of a Columbia that never existed.

– The Staff of The Blue & White and Bwog

Photos courtesy of The Varsity Show

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  • hmmm says:

    @hmmm a surprisingly well written critique!

  • it's says:

    @it's Hannah ‘Kloepfer’, Bwog.

    Otherwise, right on.

    1. Anish says:

      @Anish You’re right, my mistake. It’s fixed now.

  • I think says:

    @I think its a bit premature to comment on the show’s plot when the preview is traditionally a few scenes selected because they won’t give away any important plot points. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual plot has very little to do with Shollenberger’s free food–that’s just a fun topic for a sneak preview where the writers can test out jokes on a live audience.

  • music! says:

    @music! I thought it was awesome, if a bit intense for a varsity show. Definitely could rock out to it though, and everyone sounded great.

  • excellent says:

    @excellent critique. well done! hopefully the V-show takes it into account!

  • Did someone says:

    @Did someone from V115 write this review? They had a love song that mentioned both the Hamilton elevator and the Lerner piano in the same verse…

  • ironic says:

    @ironic since the reviewers noted above the \obligatory jokes, seemingly pulled at random from a stack of old V-Show scripts.\ point is, it’s hard to be completely original with something like vshow since it’s been happening for so long. for my part, i thought the writing was impressively original, especially because it’s preview and thus taken totally out of the context of the show. looking forward to seeing the final product.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “It’s not our chosen colleges that divide us and it’s not the frat parties that unite us. It’s the little things: the Hamilton elevator and Wilma’s omelets, loud pianos in Lerner and late-night runs to HamDel.”

    SPOT ON. V-show writers, are you listening?

    1. Amen says:

      @Amen Amen, brother, amen.

      (or sister)

      (or whatever gender-neutral word works for you there)

  • person says:

    @person Thank God for the Bwog! The Varsity Show is a cliquish group that presumes to speak for all of us. I’m glad the Bwog is neither of those.

    1. Hahaha: says:

      @Hahaha: Hahahaha. Riiight.

  • Regardless says:

    @Regardless of plot originality, Alex Hare’s Shollenberger may very well give Pat’s Quigley a run for his money; I think he balances realism with absurdity a bit better, though I suppose that character may go nuts as well later in the show. And it’s great to have two brilliant songwriters making music that’s somewhat memorable.

    Oh, and did anyone else find the mariachi band in the background unbelievably distracting? I know it’s the restaurant’s prerogative, but I can’t see how that could even be enjoyable for diners.

  • I says:

    @I completely agree.

  • concerned butler patrons says:

    @concerned butler patrons Heres an issue the varsity show left out of their little production: the balding, old man who watches late night porn in Butler. I’ve calmed myself with several theories about this mysterious creepster (he is doing a study on how young co-eds react to porn in public places or he is an actor training to play the role of Elizabeth Smart’s abductor). In the depth of my heart, and in view of the ecstatic, but somehow contained, expression on his face as it is lit up by the glow of the computer screen, I know these theories are the bemusement of a naive one who sees the world through an academic haze. Has anyone else noticed this fellow? Has anyone talked to him, approached him? What should be done? or is anything to be done? is this the world we live in? is the the harbinger of a new age? When does he get off on it? So many questions… so much time…. help.

    1. Ha! says:

      @Ha! WHERE exactly does this happen?

      There needs to be an audience to shame him into a flacid state.

      Between the homeless black guy on the third floor who snores until 9-1o pm four five nights a week and this, Butler is essentially your local YMCA with wi-fi access.

      1. butler patron says:

        @butler patron computers outside butler 301… late nights, usually weekend days

  • surfin' UWS says:

    @surfin' UWS That Ben kid’s ass was yummy. Just wanted to toast it on a bagel.

    1. Oh please... says:

      @Oh please... Pat is V116’s resident hottie.

  • Strong preview says:

    @Strong preview this is shaping up to be a great leap back for the vshow

  • vshow says:

    @vshow has a twitter? for serious?? c’mon guys…

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous also…i id idn’t get into the show. but turns out havana was also hosting the ;business schoo mixer ? a bynch of dueches there.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Why hasn’t anyone mentioned Hillary Kritt and her performance? She was SO fucking good.

  • Adding to the Noise says:

    @Adding to the Noise “We want us, V-Show, not them!… It’s not war among ourselves; it’s a collective struggle to survive.”

    I think Bwog comments alone can prove that there is a little bit of a war among ourselves here at Columbia. Look at the comments on the recent article about Meryl Streep, the article about the smoking ban on campus, or any of the “As Seen on College Walk” or Personals articles.

    I do not read bwog comments as the voice of Columbia, but I can see varsity show people making a good argument from them. Also, I am sure the people involved will make sure the message is about cherishing the strong and dedicated community we have here and not the hate speech that they satirize in their show.

    1. amen says:

      @amen well said

  • Personally says:

    @Personally I loved the preview. Very tight, funny writing, especially in the classroom scene! John Goodwin could be my CC prof any day…

  • John says:

    @John Goodwin and Pat Blute are such cuties… no matter the V116 plot, I know that it will be an awesome show due to them and all the other incredibly talented people involved in this year’s show.

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