Apr

30

An Exposé: The 117th Annual Varsity Show

Written by

Send us publicity pics when you can k? Tanks!

With a whopping ~$100K budget, it’s understandable that people hold such high expectations for the Vshow. The 117th iteration succeeded in tackling this year’s scandals, but failed to deliver the polished production we wanted. Clocking in at over 2 hours (plus intermission), the show strove for topicality, as it should, and handled sensitive issues tastefully and creatively. Whereas last year’s show cleanly executed a safe story, 117 confronted, if messily, the scandals head-on: ROTC, the drug bust, Epstein—it’s all in there. They packed in a lot, but unfortunately the plot collapsed under its own weight.

The first act devoted too much time to introducing the individual plots strands, and got bogged down tying them all together. So let’s run through the threads: the senator’s love story, his sister’s quest for fame, a boy enrolled at Barnard, ADP’s Four Loko operation/revolution against the War on Fun, POTC undercover policemen, and Ke$ho (more on this later.) Phew. It was an impressive feat to weave them all in, but the whole was ultimately less than the sum of its parts. The show opened with a dedication to sticking it to the Man and overturning the War on Fun, but ended incongruously with a message about being true to yourself. There was no consistent theme driving the story from beginning to end. If you turned in a paper that began with one thesis and ended with a completely unrelated one, you would get a B-. Except in Art Hum.

That said, the show never felt like a half-assed checklist of jokes. Writers Nuriel Moghavem, CC’11,  and Betsy Morais, CC’11, reprised familiar fare of Barnard and GS stabs in surprisingly refreshing ways. A brilliantly executed BC joke (“But will my diploma say…”) by Jesse (Chris Silverberg, CC’13) received one of the biggest laughs of the night. Unfortunately, all of the songs written for Silverberg’s part didn’t fully showcase his rich lower register, with one notable exception: “Barnard Boy.” In this highlight of the second act, Jesse reveals to his bro-y Barnard suitemates that he is in fact a dude (identifies as a male on a daily basis). However, things got awkward when attempted jokes received zero laughs. These uncomfortable moments littered the show and detracted from its brighter spots.

Besides the Barnard Boy, we loved the innovative POTC undercover cops, played by Bob Vulfov, CC’13, and Andrew Wright, CC’14. While the Vshow usually forgets that Columbia girls exist, 117 gave us a likable one in the character of ADP Prez Julia (Naomi Roochnik, BC ‘13). With a range rivalling Kristen Chenoweth, Nora (Rebekah Lowin CC’14,) the fame-hungry freshperson, displayed serious vocal chops in another one of our favorite songs, “Campus Character.” (Through we’re pretty sure our parent magazine The Blue and White is not well-known enough for the “Campus Character” feature to be an effective plot device). Preston the Senator (Isaac Assor, CC’14—he reminded us of someone we knew, but douchier) even had his moments. While the blossoming relationship between the ADP President and Senator Preston emerged from the first act as the the main plot, it was Nora the Campus Character wannabe and Jesse the Barnard Boy who proved the most memorable protagonists. More memorable still was Dean Kevin Shollenberger, played by Sean Walsh, CC’14. Targeting admins has been a mainstay of recent Vshows, but this time, unlike in V115, it worked. Our very own KevSho turns out to be none other than pop sensation Ke$ho. Functional and funny, he tied together the plot strands towards the end of the show. This was a welcome contrast to the first act with clumsy numbers that lasted too long (“Go Undercover” and “At John Jay”), and a muddled finale. “Another Scandal,” the first act’s final number, suffered from indecipherable overlapping voices and disjointed dancing.

Still, there were a few redeeming one-liners. Some of our favorites included truisms,“It’s all a facade… like Tom’s”; “Alcohol’s the Tenth Way of Knowing”; “that school across the street that’s just for women…Teachers College”; and the revelation of “Columbia’s two biggest sex cults: COÖP and Spectator.” The audience was really into these, but we wish the writers had edited out all the other filler that fell flat for long stretches of the show. Without some tired tropes, the whole thing would have been substantially shorter. Two and half hours is a lot to ask from people, especially this weekend.

The choreography was similarly patchy, with a few sensational dancers (Alia Munsch, BC’12, Victoria Pollack, BC’12, Elizabeth Power, CC’13) and a lot of mediocre ones. Credit goes to Sarah Miller, BC’13, for making dancing such a major component of the Varsity Show, but once again, the highs were high (Ke$ha club scene and Chicago-style Tango) and the lows were low (4Loco, drunk dancing is awkward to watch on stage, especially when you’re not drunk.) Awkward technical problems riddled the performance. Mics were unbalanced, and extraneous noises came through.

Further props to set designers (pun, tee hee!) Emily Wallen, BC’11, and Rikki Feuerstein, CC’13, for livening the sets with genius details like the Bieber poster in the Bros’ room and the Lennon/ Lenin distinction in ADP. The Heights set was fabulously accurate.

117’s tunes swung from tango to techno. We applaud composers Shira Laucharoen, CC ‘12, and Eli Grober, CC ‘13, for composing a totally original score that incorporated jazz, Latin, Scat, and calypso, among other genres. Past shows have relied on generic 4-chord progressions, played on keyboard and guitar, but this year’s featured a talented 10-piece band. There was even an accordion solo!

This year’s Varsity Show was the best way to spend Friday evening, but not by much. The length really dragged down some of the most enjoyable moments, making it hard to recall points that were well-executed. The last town hall scene offered a sobering moment to reflect genuinely on the year’s tribulations. In an effective writing move, characters’ lines were pulled verbatim from Bwog comments on Operation Ivy League posts. These points grounded the show and made us consider the gravity of the year’s scandals. Still the sentiment of self-reflection in the second to last scene did not cohere with the finale’s call to “take off your disguises.” The whirling plot sapped too much of the show’s energy to bring it to a satisfying close. The thing was cumbersome and unpolished. It’s worth going for the frothier second act. If you’re willing to spend two and half hours, you’re sure to be somewhat entertained, but not fulfilled.

“Peace Bitches.”

– The staff of Bwog and The Blue & White

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127 Comments

  1. Uuh

    The squirrel photo is ironic given the bwog-isnt-edgy joke.,

  2. Clearly  

    written by a freshman who has not been to the last two varsity shows and has no idea what they're talking about.

  3. Anonymous  

    I thought this v show was great. I don't go for a well tied together plot - it reflects our experiences not a novel. The singing - great. The music - excellent. The dancing -both hilarious and well done. I enjoyed this production a lot and recommend everyone go see it regardless of the Bwog review (though that should go without saying).

  4. Hooah  

    First of all, the V show review is never written by a freshman. Second of all, I agree with Bwog. I was generally disappointed by the show. It had some good ideas, and some good jokes. But I was never invested in the storyline or the characters, and never really laughing that hard. I laughed a lot harder last year. And a LOT harder three years ago.

  5. hmm  

    Last year's was generic and played on the most tired stereotypes. These varied plot lines made it work, and the audience was dying of laughter for a lot of it. Maybe Bwog's feelings are a little hurt?

  6. Wow,  

    I disagree with almost everything in this review. The plot was the best thing about the show, and notably better than last year's hackneyed one; the only thing long about the show were the set changes; jokes definitely didn't fall flat -- I mean, I feel like we were at flat-out different shows.

    • No no no

      Last year's plot was anything but hackneyed...it was clear and concise and offered up characters that were relatable yet also hysterical. V116 was the best one I've seen in the past 3 years...Also their cast was amazingly talented. This cast could dance but I found some of the singing and acting mediocre

  7. Bwog  

    is just bitter about the fact that many of the best jokes were at their expense. The show was hilarious, and I would recommend it to anybody. It got a standing ovation! The whole Blue & White staff should review the show as they did with the V114 as opposed to letting some anonymous whiny student to do it for them. As a Senior, it was great to get out from Roone laughing as hard as I did in freshman year. Congratulations to the whole V117 team!

  8. well done!

    Despite being a senior I had never been to a Varsity Show before this year's and I have to say that I was incredibly impressed by the talent of the cast and the quality of the writing. Great singing and great comedic timing by the actors. I do agree with this review's criticism that the show ran a bit long, even though it was funny it did feel we were sitting there for a really long time for a comedy show (like maybe one plot thread could have been slimmed down a bit). I also think that the show's writers did a great job handling all the scandal that went on this year without taking too strong of a stance on anything, and I'd say at least 90% of the jokes were really, really funny if you understood them. Overall I thought it was a great show and I'm honored to attend the same college as these great actors, singers, dancers, writers, musicians, and behind-the-scenes people. Bravo!

  9. this review  

    is too harsh/snarky! the varsity show was amazing this year! some of the music/dance numbers could have been shortened, but other than than i wouldn't change a thing.

    • Actually  

      I think the review was fair. I completely agree that the “Go Undercover” scene could/should have definitely been omitted. Bwog definitely gave the production its deserved credits but it was not perfect. But, overall, the show was good and did a great job showcasing some really convincing Columbia talent.

    • Not an English major  

      I think the use of expose in the title is not only pejorative in this context but also gives the impression that Bwog is somehow enlightening an otherwise inaccurate public opinion (which IS snarky)

  10. Anonymous  

    KESHOOOO!

    and poor music composers. the music itself was diverse, but the musicians sounded like they had drunk inordinate amounts of four loko.

  11. commenters  

    have a right to stay anonymous. editors do not. if you are going to write a strong critique, at least put a by-line on it.

  12. Anonymous  

    why don't we take some of that 100k budget and put it to the spring concert

  13. Anonymous  

    thank god those kids sold drugs or there would've been nothing to talk about.

  14. CC'11  

    Woah. V117 had 100k at their disposal? It was a good show. It had a few very strong numbers ("Barnard Boy," "Campus Character") sung by some cast members with great voices. It managed to touch on all of this year's scandals without being cruel or over-the-top about it. But $100k? It sure didn't seem like it.

    • Anonymous  

      You'd be surprised how quickly things like those additional lighting trusses and the sound system add up. Also the Lerner Tech fees for a whole week in Roone, with additional people to run the flies.

      Not that all these things are necessary--they tend to be useless in a space like Roone. But that's probably where they threw a ton of money.

  15. Anonymous

    Bwog just continues to prove its stupidity again and again. This reactive and moronic article doesn't do justice to the best varsity show in years.

    • Actually,  

      I think this review's about right. A few good moments, a few really tepid ones, talented people being talented, pacing problems but an overall decent experience - that's pretty right on.

  16. is it just me  

    or were the POTC undercover cops supposed to be 'undercover' for something else....? like being gay? (i mean come on: wanting to be "on top," being on a "man date," general homoeroticism, ...more that i can't remember)

  17. Anonymous

    i'm sorry but how could you not mention how BRILLIANT naomi roochnik's singing is? she was such a star

  18. 100K?

    seriously? If you're gonna be harsh, especially about money, at least have facts to back that up. And no, a friend of a friend who knows a person does not count.

  19. Van Owen

    Sadly, it was an overall disappointment and by saying it was alright is like giving every kid on the team a trophy. At times it was totally incoherent and dull, but, yes, Naomi Roochnik's singing was brilliant.

  20. Anonymous  

    Wow, Bwog. You really blew it. Because the Varsity Show decided to make (hilarious and well-delivered) jokes about your poor writing and lack of credibility, you follow up with poorly written and depthless review. \Thursday night\? The show opened on Friday, first off. And the $100,000 budget goes to lighting, sound, staff, and venue. I also love that instead of putting a picture of the (sensational) cast and/or production team, or even the V-Show logo, you put a picture of a squirrel in response to a joke. It's a shame people take this shit seriously.

  21. Aww, sad bwog  

    Yeah, ok, if you're going to blast the show, acknowledge that the show mocked your mediocre website.

    That's just sad.

  22. THIS  

    THREAD IS NOW ABOUT HOW SHITTY BWOG HAS BECOME

    The standing O at the jokes making fun of bwog's irrelevance show how we all feel about the direction of this site.

    Item 1: Literally a picture of a squirrel.

  23. Anonymous

    I thought this Varsity Show was one of the most entertaining, catchy, and well written ones yet. Not to mention the excessive talent up there on that stage - particularly Chaz, played by Andrew Wright. He executed his character perfectly, and my friends and I definitely think he deserves a LOT of credit. All the others were wonderful as well - spot on with Rebekah's vocal abilities. Overall, awesome show.

  24. Also  

    You spelled Betsy's name wrong. Do you employ copy editors or just write stuff and post it?

  25. don't you think  

    you could have at least said who wrote this? There's no dignity in writing such a picky, destructively critical review without revealing the author.

    On another note, if Bwog wrote the varsity show, it'd probably be about the weather...or telling us about housing, considering that's the only thing Bwog's good for anyway.

    • Claire  (Bwog Staff)  

      You're right! The review was written by the staff of The Blue and White and Bwog. We collectively review the show every year. Last night we sat down for a good two hours and discussed the production, and today spent almost six going over our notes and writing the review up. It is not the opinion of any individual person.

      We believe our review is dignified. There's a lot of specific criticism, and a lot of specific praise. And of course we encourage everyone to go see the performance (and form their own opinions)... it's tradition after all!

  26. Anonymous  

    snark + squirrels = :-(

  27. to say that  

    this varsity show's cast is mostly full of mediocre dancers is RIDICULOUS . how dare you

    also, a "somewhat entertained" audience of 1,100 doesn't usually give a standing ovation.

  28. Speccest  

    So true, so real.

  29. sadia

    bwog is clearly being bitter about the digs made toward them. betsy and nuriel wrote an excellent show (and i've seen five). this show was better than most, if not all, the shows i saw as an undergrad. your review offers very few concrete criticisms and the fact that it is unsigned confirms for me that this is more of a staff editorial/defense than a real review.
    stop shitting on good things because you got ribbed a little. it's okay!

  30. Anonymous  

    Shira's name is also misspelled. Just further proof of how much of a joke this review is. There is a difference between criticism and statements that are just flat out wrong. It is disappointing to see that the majority of this falls into the latter category. The audience's seemingly constant laughter, applause and overwhelming standing ovation suggest that this production was easily the best varsity show in recent memory.

  31. Anonymous  

    holy shit people. calm the fuck down. it's one god damn review. It's possible, that they, GASP, had a different opinion than you!

    I'm sure Bwog gets more hits in a day than people see the varsity show in a year. Why the fuck would they care if there was ONE joke about them? Just relax and agree to disagree. Not the end of the world...

    • CLEARLY

      Written by the Bwogger who reviewed the show.

    • vshow alumn  

      But it is clear that they cared about the one joke written by them, as you can tell from the caption under the photo - essentially a catty dig at the show. "Tanks!"?

      And the problem is, this mysterious "they" (and no it is not enough to say "the staff") likely had varied opinions themselves. To put out a single consensus review doesn't represent the fact that many of them likely had different opinions about the show that do not shine through because they conform to a single released product. If there are so many reviewers seeing the show, why don't they each put out a short review to reflect what they think? If each and every reviewer disliked the show as much as this review seems to suggest, then they should go ahead and say so, but I bet at least a few of them enjoyed it at more than a "B-" level.

      If individual reviews are impractical, each and every person's name that makes up the group putting out this review should be listed (every other show on campus gets to know who is reviewing them). There is no integrity in hiding behind the name of Bwog and The Blue and White while taking no personal journalistic responsibility for the writing you are publishing.

  32. Anonymous  

    KE$HO. That is all.

  33. Anonymous  

    I wonder if bwog will ever have theater reviewers who know a single thing about theater. It doesn't seem show. Instead of criticizing the weakest part of the show (the music) you criticize the best part of the show (the jokes, the cast). Way to go bwog!

    • Anonymous  

      I wouldn't say the music was the weakest part of the show at all. The band was extremely talented (the violinist and trumpet player, holy shit) and the music was pretty diverse and definitely catchy and fun. i'd say the weakest parts were definitely technical, but that's just the pitfalls of Roone and huge rolling set pieces

      • Anonymous  

        The orchestra was great, as were the orchestrations. The songs in and of themselves were shaky at best. There were a few highlights but there wasn't a single moment of musical inspiration and quite a few of the songs sounded exactly alike.

  34. Anonymous  

    i feel like the bwog used to be about uniting campus by having a sense of humor and mocking frustrating aspects of campus life. this review is just sad and sort of petty.

  35. CC'11  

    It's a travesty that Columbia student organizations have to cough up that kind of money to use space in the student center.

    • Anonymous

      THANK YOU!! I 100% agree!

    • Truth  

      Its not like we do anything about it. We complain about the issues on Bwog but never rise to the challenge of reshaping the bureaucracy. I am sure that this will get thumbed down or mocked with negative witty banter or something that say that we can't do anything. But we do have the power.

      • CC'11  

        So, what do we do?

        • group rights seem to diminish every term  

          I think that the first thing that could be done is that all the groups could organize an all campus meeting with representatives from all groups to discuss issues, space, budget, etc...

          Once the main issues are addressed then at least there is a centralized voice for everyone to group around and present to the powers that be.

          I am not saying this is the only way, this is only my opinion with minimal input from other people. All I know are the problems that my organization faces as well as the problems faced by my friend's groups and what they decide to share with me. But it does seem as if some type of Unity is the key.

  36. FOOLS

    This is probably the second bwog theatre review all year that is actually a review (the first being the KCST Shrew review from earlier this weekend). And, as being a real review, it points out the high and low points of the show and attributes them to the proper parties. Just because the review is 100% positive, doesn't mean its snarky. Clearly, this years' VShow was not up to par with what our campus had hoped. It had serious theatrical, technical, production, and creative issues. A lot of elements were not thought through appropriately and with the team and talent behind 117, it should have been a lot better. That being said, it wasn't BAD- and the review doesn't say it was. This show was certainly enjoyable and had its fair share of top notch moments. This review hits the nail on the head- THIS IS THE VARSITY SHOW. With all of its resources and notoriety, it should blow us out of the water, and it didn't. But, all said and done it was a fun show.

  37. NOMADS  

    "This year’s Varsity Show was the best way to spend Thursday evening, but not by much"

    uhhhhhhh did anyone here see YERMA??? fucking great.

  38. Sam Mickel is my hero  

    How was there no mention of Sam Mickel in the review? Not only did he have the funniest characters, he also had the most and handled changing them expertly. Give credit where credit is due. Props to Andrew Wright too, he portrayed his character arc fantastically.

  39. what happened

    to the hilarious characters of last year... the guys who played the medieval guy and the CC professor? I want more of them!

  40. Resolution

    See the show for yourself today and see what a joke Bwog is

  41. We learned in middle school

    How typos and (simple) facts errors belittle your credibility.

    Forgetting that the show DIDN'T open on Thursday isn't helpin me not trust this review...

  42. hmm  

    I just think that the review goes about making its points in the wrong way. Some of them are valid, but the reasoning is off. For instance: "Two and half hours is a lot to ask from people, especially this weekend."

    One, the show was over by 10:30, included an intermission and started late. So it was most certainly not two and a half hours. Second, VShow has always been the last weekend in April. Holi was scheduled for last week and rescheduled at the last minute, and Bacchanal moves around all the time. That's not an effective way to make an argument.

    I also think that, even if the entire staff of the B&W and Bwog wrote this, those names should be written here. When the editorial board of the Spec writes something, even though they don't sign it, their names always appear in the masthead to the left. It would just help us attach some names to this review.

  43. How  

    was there no mention of Rachel Chavez, aka Sabor girl??! She also played the dude-y Barnard girl (not Barnard Boy) and executed both roles hilariously - the audience loved her.

  44. LOL  

    It's a little ironic that people are both complaining about bwog being not edgy enough, and getting mad at them for writing a critical review

  45. Anonymous  

    Overall, I think the criticisms were very fair and quite specific. I thought the show was quite good, but I do think there were some parts that can (and should) be subjected to constructive criticism. The dancing was shaky at parts (for example, when the two cops were kicking it was almost never coordinated), the music was shaky at times (the comment next me was that it seemed as if the conductor was ahead of his instrumentalists) and some of the songs were iffy (read: John Jay song).

    That being said, Barnard Boy should have been allowed to explore his lower registers further - he clearly has an incredibly voice and I hope to see him next year.

    The Sabor joke was funny the first three times, kinda old the last 10293812093 times.

    I was kinda confused about what the play was about around the third scene, honestly. As far as coherence goes, last year's show was much easier to follow. As far as one-liners go, this show hit it out of the park and performed well above the level of last year. But I remember a much more polished performance last year as well. It goes both ways I guess...

    The score was more diverse - well done on that front

  46. WHY IS  

    BETSY'S NAME STILL SPELLED WRONG? NUMEROUS PEOPLE HAVE POINTED THIS OUT ALREADY.

  47. completely agree with bwog

    i only stood up at the end because everyone else was standing

  48. Critical/Sentimental Senior

    I thought the show was pretty good, and I see where Bwog is coming from in some of their criticisms. A lot of one-liners fell flat, but the great ones were particularly excellent. The plot was a disjointed mess, and it wasn't exactly satire in the way 114 did with the sex strike as much as it was just repeating the events of the last year with ways to twist them together. I also have no idea what the take away message was of the whole thing—I'm not saying the creative team needs to be preaching, but I thought the rushed town hall scene failed to sum up the lessons of both the characters as well as the year of Columbia for anyone.

    That being said, the show was hella-fun. Mad props to the composers for bringing diverse types of music into the show, and to the whole cast for bringing a huge A game to the show and having so much fun. This might be the best year of singers Vshow has ever had, as well as dancers. I was laughing a lot, and only occasionally checking my watch. V-Show swung hard this year, and perhaps the whole thing was too ambitious, but Bwog is right that the highs were extremely high, and for me that was enough.

    ALSO huge props to director Emily Nagel for leading this talented team! I can't believe I'm the first person to mention her.

  49. Van Owen

    Those of you who are touting this V-show as one of the "greatest of all time" are clearly either delusional or members of the production company. Regardless, as an audience member, I was expecting a quality production, but I was met with mediocrity. It's funny that those who disagree with BWOG's review are so eager to criticize BWOG as a whole. If the show sucked, then it sucked, don't try to muddle that fact by adding your virulent comments in condemnation of BWOG to the overall discussion. You can't always get an A, you just have to settle with the C+ this time around. I'm looking forward to the 118th V-show, and hopefully it will erase this abortion from my memory.

  50. ban frats on campus!  

    I didn't see the show because I hate school spirit and wish the war on fun would forever cast a cloud on this campus and make it as dark as my soul.

    I do know, however, that both writers of this year's v show are speccies. think about it.

  51. holy shit,

    columbia spectator, stop eating this comment thread. congratulate your talented friends betsy and nuriel for a job well done and lots of hard work instead of writing mindless comments here, it's kind of an insult to how much people work on vshow in general to turn this comment thread into some jealous mud-slinging nonsense. i'm sure you all have some homework or something.

  52. Couple Points  

    1) I have spoken to several producers and production members of past Vshows and the 100k price tag has been generally confirmed (also, you can just do the math. 4,000 tickets at about 10 bucks a pop plus the most funding of any theater (and pretty much any other) group on campus)

    2) Anonymity does not invalidate an opinion. Our country was founded on the words of anonymous documents, from the Federalist Papers to the Silence Dogood and Benevolus Letters by Ben Franklin. It seems like people are demanding to know the names of the reviewers as a way to target them. Why would an organization open up its members to personal attacks. If Bwog stands by this article then it doesn't matter who wrote it.

    3) This may perhaps be considered catty but I do think that the fundamental problem with this VShow as it is with most VShows is that the writers aren't playwrights. The level of the one-liners clearly shows that they're talented but of course two people who don't have experience crafting a play are going to have a hard time making it all mesh together. That said, I thought the acting was awesome (as it is in every VShow) and the music was quite solid, if sometimes a bit muddled. I would have like transitions that didn't stop the show for quite so long though, that really killed the momentum.

    4) There are probably a lot of typos in this post. Have fun bwog trolls.

  53. anyone else  

    notice the ONE person of color on stage? so much for diversity? the barnard boy was fabulous though. props.

  54. Anonymous

    Andrew Wright, you and your tight jeans can get into mine any day. That is all.

  55. senior  

    1. I saw 4 v-shows. This was better than the last two. Could not beat the first one I saw in Freshman year.
    2. The plot was ultra creative. However, there was no character development, I felt the love line was ok? and what? they love each other? since when? And to be honest, the dean was kinda out of place. The beginning was promising but the ending was pretty bad.
    3. no asians. one black. all white.
    4. the music was more than excellent. it really made the show worth it for me.
    5. Overall, not a bad show!

    • already said this on another post BUT  

      ...look again at your program. there are other "nonwhite" people in the cast. And while I truly do think that the varsity show should represent the diversity of columbia, there were only a dozen people in the cast. I'm not entirely sure why people are so hung up on the race thing. There were "asians" (although I prefer to call them asian american people, but thats just me) working on other aspects of the show. Just because they weren't in the cast doesn't mean they don't exist. The set designer is Black. One of the writers is Persian. I'm not certain of Shira's ethnicity (anyone know? Shira, where you at?), but she isn't white. Again, not that art should be discounted because of the skin colors of the people who make it but Chris Silverberg was not the only person of color involved in this show and as wonderful as he is people need to stop saying that.

      • Correction  

        The art director, Antoinette Allen, is indeed black. The set designer, however, Emily Wallen BC '11, is decidedly white.

      • Friend of Shira  

        Shira is Thai.

      • Anonymous  

        but I meant the people on stage--supposedly representing Columbia population!! Columbia is known for its diversity. But in Vshows, only white characters really dominate. There are 30% asian on this campus. and I can't expect to see one Asian singer on the stage? It doesn't even have to be asian. I just want one asian character, maybe played by a black person!!!!

        • Don't you think  

          that it's more important that the casting team picked the most talented people as opposed to those who racially represented the campus?

          I mean, seriously, I'm sorry that no Asians that were as talented as Rebekah, Sean, Naomi, Sam, Victoria, Andrew or Bob auditioned... but like, get real. No one's gonna pick someone based on their race over their talent for something as prestigious as the Varsity Show.

  56. Anonymous

    V116 was way better

  57. Elizabeth Logan  

    Hey guys! It's Elizabeth Logan, CC 14 here.
    I assistant directed V117, I'm biased and a freshman, so I can't fairly comment on the relative merits of the show. Bwog has a right to its opinion, and art isn't good art if everyone likes it, so hooray for disagreement!
    To say one thing in response, though: the show was not supposed to be so long! When we ran a full dress rehearsal, V117 clocked in at a little over 90 minutes. The reason it was so long on show nights was that the audience kept laughing at our jokes. We had to keep pausing because, for reasons unknown, they were cracking up! All of back stage were like, "what is going on? Are they giving this a standing ovation? Doesn't the audience realize we all have things to do? Stop clapping! Leave!"
    Weird. Sorry!

    In full recognition of how (unnecessarily) snarky this is, Lizzie

    PS-this is in all sincerity: I realize it's hard to review the "direction" of a show, because directors have a hand in almost every aspect of a production, so it's fine (I guess) that you didn't talk about our director. Still, it needs to be said/written/put into cyberspace that Emily Nagel (CC 12) is one of the most dedicated and talented directors/people in student theatre at Columbia right now, and whatever anyone DID like about the show, she deserves partial credit for. She's resourceful and adorable and tall and everywhere on campus: like a giraffe-squirrel megahybrid.

  58. Chris Silverberg  

    Okay, I know I shouldn't comment on this, because, well, I was in the show, but lemme just make a few quick comments. (Plus, Lizzie did it already, so I'm allowed, right?)

    1) Anyone who thinks that I was the only student of color involved in this production just flat out didn't read the program and/or didn't do any research whatsoever. Or ask anybody involved, for god's sake. A brief and incomplete listing of the people of color and other minorities involved in this production: Alia Munsch, Naomi Roochnik, Rachel Chavez, Antoinette Allen, Malida Tadesse, Mike Hsu. Please pay attention before you make incorrect and rather insensitive comments like that.

    2) I really, really, really appreciate the positive comments about Barnard Boy, and I hate to seem like I'm bitching about a complement, but just factually speaking, the part in Barnard Boy that people seemed to enjoy the most is in the exact same range the composers wrote for me for the vast majority of the show, from scene 1 through the last solo note I sang on stage. The fact is, there was a particular timbre they let me use in Barnard Boy, not range, and that sound has a limited dramatic function (you can't sing like that and play frenetic at the same time; it's tough to sing like that in an uptempo number period, and my character would have been dull as a board if all I sang were ballads). The composers and writers should be credited for finding an incredibly apt place to use it (and writing a pretty kick-ass number), while still allowing me to play a character that did what I love to do onstage, which is to be frenetic and wave my arms. Like I said, I hate to complain about a complement, but it bothers me that the creative team is coming off as though they didn't utilize their cast's talent to the fullest, because in reality they truly did a phenomenal job of playing to each of our individual strengths at one point or another in the show.

    (Shameless self-promotion: if you want to hear more of me singing all barnard boy-ish-ly---which would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside---check out this video, made with fellow Vshow team members Isaac Assor and Mike Hsu and/or come to a Nonseq concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kM8PefPjrfs)

    3) I just want to echo Lizzie in saying that while I understand, I suppose, why Emily Nagel wasn't mentioned in the review, people should know that she may well be the single person most instrumental in bringing this show to life. It would really bug me if people didn't know that. So know it. Thanks.

    4) I for one don't mind a critical review. (I mean, I'd be ridiculously hypocritical if I did). Obviously, I disagree with much of what this review says, but can we please not put bwog down for offering an honest, only partially negative opinion? I'd much rather have this review than an unreflective piece of unqualified praise. (I mean, I'd also rather have a well-considered piece of only slightly qualified praise, but hey you can't always get what you want).

    5) Just so I don't sound totally ridiculous (I've probably blown my chance at that but oh well), I want to reiterate that I really appreciate everybody who came out to see the show, whether you loved it or hated it or were somewhere in-between. You were part of a really wonderful experience for me and everyone else who worked on this show, and I hope that even if you hated it, there were moments where you were having as much fun as we did. (Sorry that's so sappy, but you know, post show weepy-ness and all.) Thanks!

  59. Anonymous  

    The music was the best its been in the past few years.

  60. My take  

    First off, I think Bwog was justified in writing this review. It's definitely not a typical theatre student review (Spec's V117 review is a typical student theatre review—very similar to Bwog's KCST, etc. reviews), but then again VShow is not a typical student theatre production. Instead, Bwog's review reminds me of reviews of the critical reviews of major productions that you see in places like the Times, where the focus is on pointing out what could have gone better rather than who was involved and the exact plot, because the assumption is that everyone's already seen the show. Given the VShow's reputation and budget, as well as their outsized cultural signifiance on campus, I think Bwog's choice of tone is justified.

    That said, I personally disagree with some of the Bwog reviewers' arguments. The biggest one would be this:
    "The show opened with a dedication to sticking it to the Man and overturning the War on Fun, but ended incongruously with a message about being true to yourself. There was no consistent theme driving the story from beginning to end. If you turned in a paper that began with one thesis and ended with a completely unrelated one, you would get a B-. Except in Art Hum."

    First off, you should have said DanceHum; that's a real missed joke opportunity. Secondly, I think you misread the first act. The first "thesis" wasn't about "sticking it to the Man"; that was just a facade that Julia adopted because she wasn't being true to herself. I really think that the moral of V117 (like V116 and countless others) is the saccharine idea of being true to yourself, not fighting the War on Fun. I think that's pretty consistent, but it's understandable why Bwog was misled.

    "Unfortunately, all of the songs written for Silverberg’s part didn’t fully showcase his rich lower register, with one notable exception: “Barnard Boy.”

    I was just impressed they managed any song that got him to sing so low. But I really don't know, so see Chris' own take above on this issue.

    "However, things got awkward when attempted jokes received zero laughs. These uncomfortable moments littered the show and detracted from its brighter spots."

    It was awkward at times, but I'm not sure I'd call this a real criticism. The actors never let it phase them, and the audience didn't seem very hostile to the performers. Sometimes, they just didn't laugh.

    "(Isaac Assor, CC’14—he reminded us of someone we knew, but douchier)"

    You know he's probably reading this review right now, right?

    "This was a welcome contrast to the first act with clumsy numbers that lasted too long (“Go Undercover” and “At John Jay”), and a muddled finale. “Another Scandal,” the first act’s final number, suffered from indecipherable overlapping voices and disjointed dancing."

    "Go Undercover" was cute because of Bob Vulfov, the most incredible individual in the world, but was pretty superfluous and could have been cut. Agree about the finale.

    "The choreography was similarly patchy, with a few sensational dancers (Alia Munsch, BC’12, Victoria Pollack, BC’12, Elizabeth Power, CC’13) and a lot of mediocre ones."

    That's actually pretty harsh. I wasn't blown away by the choreography, but I didn't think it was that bad. Moreover, I didn't notice that Alia or Liz were that much better than the others. But I'm not a dancer, so I don't know!

    "The thing was cumbersome and unpolished. It’s worth going for the frothier second act. If you’re willing to spend two and half hours, you’re sure to be somewhat entertained, but not fulfilled."

    Again, that's a very harsh assessment that doesn't really seem supported by the argument. I guess your main point is that the plot was really convoluted and didn't seem consistent to you. So I guess I can understand how that could have taken away from your experience so much that you hardly think it was worth going. But I suspect you just went overboard in writing a critical review.

    Finally, it's really bad that you didn't mention the director, producer, etc. They're a pretty important part of student theatre productions, especially one of this sheer size. But it obviously wasn't malicious on your part; you just forgot! Still, just so they get recognition: it was Emily Nagel, CC ’12, and the producers were Fiona Georgakis, CC ’13, and Martin Willner, CC ’12.

    Having written theatre reviews before, I know how frustrating it is to see a point-by-point deconstruction, and I do not think the tone of the Bwog review was uncalled for, but ultimately I disagree strongly with the conclusions that you came to. Unlike most commenters, I'm not going to accuse you of being upset about the Bwog jokes (there were like 3, and none were that critical. More than anything, V117 just reminded people that the B&W exists and plays a role in shaping campus culture, which was actually pretty cool). But I will suggest that you wanted to write a real, critical review (which you did, unlike Spec!) and just got a little carried away with the rhetoric and remembering how you felt during the show after the fact.

    Of course, this is all just my opinion. Above all, great job VShow and great job Bwog!

  61. bored at butler  

    saw it yesterday, i thought it was good. i dont kno why im commenting on this thread, probably because im trying to avoid studying right now.....now im not an arts person myself so all I can really say is that i would bang the main girl characters. ADP president was hot and so was the little sister...threesome???

  62. Senior  

    BWOG is being pretty fair. The show had its highs and lows, but honestly one-liners don't carry a show. Singing and music was superb. The orchestra was the best by far, and the kudos to the violinist (from a fellow violinist!) The acting and enunciation could be worked on. Tunes should ideally be in the singer's register. The John Jay number was the most memorable for my group. Great job everyone!

    I honestly still have to say the V-show in our freshman year was pretty bomb and tied together really nicely...

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