The 117th Annual Varsity Show Preview

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Bwog squeezed in to Havana Central’s backroom for the much anticipated Varsity Show Preview. There was promise, pizazz, and no Operation Ivy League…

Last night’s 117th Varsity Show preview was executed seamlessly, but displayed no awareness of the insanity that went down last semester. Of course, we’re not asking for a laundry list style lampooning of the highlights (or lowlights), but save for one POTUS project reference, you could have copied and pasted last night’s script to fit any other year’s show. Still, we liked it—a lot!—and it seems the rest of the audience agreed.

The show started off strong with a punchy LLC skit, (“the Laughing Loving Center”). Elizabeth Power, CC ’13, perfectly played the over-eager RA. But the script stuck to tried and true jokes pulled from clichéd V-Show scripts of yore: Harlem is scary, international students exist. So do Republicans. But then good ol’ Frontiers of Science Cowboy, played by Sam Mickel, CC ’14, showed up all the way from the “Northwest…Corner Building,” and won us over with his scruffy swag. He served as a clever narrative device linking the otherwise disconnected scenes. Though his Columbia “campfire stories” provided a suitable framework for the short preview, the Frontiersman, even with his spot-on sound effects and corny-cute shtick, probably couldn’t carry a full show.

Then came the real winner: ManDate. The music, featuring a keyboard switched to a tropical vibraphone setting, buoyed the best lyrics of the show. Four guys (Issac Assor, CC ’14, Andrew Wright, CC ’14, Chris Silverberg, CC ’13, and Bob Vulfov, CC ’13) out at a bar fail miserably at picking up girls (“Your hair smells like juice!”), commiserate in four-part harmony, and embrace bromance. We genuinely welcomed the performers’ punny “mandate” to see the V-Show when our favorite tune was reprised in finale.

The next numbers fell short. In “College is Latin for Mistakes,” the Chicago-inspired tango music and animated choreography proved memorable; the content less so. By trying to appeal to universal college experiences, the lyrics lacked the incisive references of last year’s best one-liners (COÖP cult, lawn police). An ADP escapade (“and then we stole a few pineapples from Westside…”), delivered memorably by Alia Munsch, BC ’12, represented more of what we want to see: the specific, unpredictable, yet weirdly relatable.

V-Show added a new course to the core, DanceHum, which offered more opportunities to display their fancy footwork. Enter Prezbo, played by the ever-popular Bob Vulfov, CC ’13, who stopped by the classroom to wax rhapsodic about free speech. Bob’s clearly a crowd-pleaser, but his lines lacked any recognizable Prezbo-ness. We get it, he doesn’t care about undergrads, Manhattanville is a thing. But that’s kind of old news, let’s move on. Remember when he wrote that tome with the uncomfortably sexual title? Also, curiously, Prezbo was blond.

The last song urged something blandly motivational about “getting off the floor.” Granted, it’s tough to perform to a packed back room with Rihanna blasting next door, but many of the last lyrics lacked clarity. Chris Silverberg, CC ’13, has one of those velvety voices that just makes you swoon. Unfortunately the song didn’t do him justice, and it lost its luster towards the end.

We anticipate V117‘s vocal powerhouses, with a record 5 members reppin’ Nonseq, will nonetheless be revealed when the cast moves from a packed bar to a real stage. We were blown away by the uncommonly professional choreography and miraculous flexibility—special kudos to Elizabeth Power, CC ’13 and Victoria Pollack, BC ’12. The phenomenal composers, Eli Grober, CC ’13,  and Shira Laucharoen, CC ’12, avoided easy poppy chord progressions, delivering instead an inventive score with pleasantly surprising flute flourishes! Given the abundant wealth of talent we saw on display, we expect great things from the actual show. While it’s tough to get the content right, and we acknowledge that it might seem almost too easy, some things just have to be touched upon (what up Epstein!). V117, you have all the ingredients, and last semester spoon-fed you the spice. Don’t settle for comfort food—serve Columbia something zesty.

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  1. I'm no mathematician, but ...  

    "Three guys (Issac Assor, CC ’14, Andrew Wright, CC ’14, Chris Silverberg, CC ’13, and Bob Vulfov, CC ’13)"

    I think something is wrong with this picture.

    • nobody expects the vshow inquisition  

      Our chief performer is Isaac Assor, Isaac Assor and Andrew Wright. Our two chief performers are Isaac Assor and Andrew Wright. And Chris Silverberg. Three! Our three chief performers are Isaac Assor, Andrew Wright, Chris Silverberg, and an almost fanatical devotion to Bob Vulfov!

  2. off topic  

    how accurate are the project exam schedules?

  3. good  

    nice review, such a step up from theater reviews last year. this actually provides constructive criticism...well done bwog

  4. Anonymous  

    I would bet the actual show has plenty to do with the events of last semester -- like every year, West End Preview is designed to show off numbers and scenes that don't reveal major plot points. Kudos to those involved, it was a very tight and energetic performance.

    • Agreed  

      Preview is just o showcase the songs that are written without giving anything away. The script is notoriously kept secret. Mad props to Shira and Eli! Also to the writers! We d not need to see an entire show about the madness that was last semester. They can be referenced but not made the entire plot. Preview was fantastic and I cannot wait for the finished product. Very excited for V117!

  5. Anonymous  

    damn straight alia munsch was memorable! girl's a triple threat & her performance was off the hook. love her

  6. Anonymous  

    the review didn't mention naomi roochnik bc '12 - i thought she was great!

  7. Spelling Mistake

    Shira Laucharoen, not Lachaoen

  8. funny

    how you keep mentioning the amazing dancing, but never say anything about the choreographer...Sara Miller is a genius and deserves so much credit. Kudos to the entire cast and team of v117--can't wait to see what you come up with!

  9. Anonymous  

    why is everyone performing white?

  10. yoda  

    Because Columbia is all white, racist, and homogenous- of course! I'll grant that the pictures here did not clearly show the casts' diversity, but don't jump to conclusions too quickly!

  11. Anonymous

    Dear Varsity Show:

    Update website, pleeeease. It's still on last year!

  12. Sooo...

    Can we talk about how I have a man-crush on Bob?

  13. Anonymous

    Who was the girl in the hipster scene who had the solo??? never seen her in a production before, is she a freshman??? her voice was AWESOME."

  14. i heart emily nagel  

    so much

  15. Well,  

    apparently what is implied here is that one of those four is not a guy.

  16. Anonymous

    Good job you all, waiting for final version!

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