Bwog squeezed in to the back room of Havana Central last night for the Varsity Show preview. Always willing to yield an unsolicited and uninformed opinion for just about anything, we summarized our staff’s general consensus in the following review.
The preview kicked off with an immediately stale #OccupyButler themed musical number, and we were quickly flooded with visions of recycled Barnard jokes and clunky dance numbers. Fortunately, however, as the preview continued, promising writing performed by appreciable talent broached genuinely interesting and controversial topics. This coming Varsity Show might follow the tired narrative path of an alternative, rebellious girl and a straight-edged, buttoned-down boy finding love, but, if the more topical bits of the preview prove a reliable indication of theme, the final show will feature a welcome confrontation of Columbia’s recent Dean-drama.
The preview, as explained by the various presenters who introduced each of the five acts, is purposefully kept vague so as to obscure the plot. However, we feel invited to make assumptions about the story’s direction and thematic concentration based upon the chunks of story available. This can work to the show’s benefit as with the expected Deantini subplot, and it can certainly work the the show’s disadvantage, as with the inclusion of been-there-done-that Columbia jokes. Especially in light of the recent Columbia meme fad, it seems nothing short of lazy for the Varsity Show to again be littered with jokes simply lifted from the inebriated Saturday night rantings of Alma-drunk NSOPers.
Fresh jokes should not only be appreciated, but expected. Columbians prove themselves brilliant and clever in so many capacities; we hope to see that wit in our campus’s largest theatre production. It’s not that this show was particularly guilty of any flagrant borrowing, but we hope for a final show that satisfies the audience with topical and biting humor, and refrains from the traditional two-hour procession of set-ups and one-liners. We would gladly go a year without being reminded that Barnard girls are all jewish sluts, or that frat guys are little better than Neanderthals on the hunt.
In keeping with that plea, it is our sincere hope that the Deantini subplot proves a mainstay of the show. Easily the biggest laugh of the night was when the Dean claimed that, “I got my job by killing Moody-Adams.” So much potential! Is it too much to ask for a Wizard of Oz redux? The lazy #Occupy number could be transformed into the munchkin lollipop dance, and the Emerald City could be Manhattanville. Boom. Just wrote V119 right there.
In all seriousness, we were ecstatic to see that the VShow team chose to cover last semester’s Dean controversy at all, and we sincerely hope for a deeper exploration of the Dean Moody-Adams controversy. Maybe we’re alone in our muckraking obsession, but it would be entirely understandable and forgivable to take that plot down a safer, diplomatic route. The doofy Valentini character promises to provide a barrage of quality laughs on his own.
On the musical side of things, the V118 preview was thoroughly enjoyable. The lively, yet light, accompaniment was a welcome departure from last year’s rockier orchestration. The vocalists shone despite being hindered by awkward choreography. Eleanor Bray, BC ’14, particularly stood out for her strong stage presence and versatile voice, though we have reservations about her character’s generic rebel spirit (“I don’t give a fuck what my parents think!” seems to unironically channel Community‘s Britta when they might be aiming for the more self-reflective, yet no less rebellious, Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks). Hopefully, the final show will bring the audience a more balanced character.
The quality vocal talent was showcased during the closing number—a rousing a capella “Roar Lion Roar.” The harmonious voices provided an energetic and joyous exclamation point to the performance. We are genuinely excited at the prospect of clear and full-bodied ensemble numbers, unlike the muddled and poorly mixed songs of V117. With extensive capital and time to spend setting up in Roone, V118 has the potential to really put on a show.
When concluding our staff’s meeting about the VShow preview, a disappointed freshman qualified some of her criticism by saying, “I guess I just went in with high expectations.” General laughter and a quick, “Well there’s your problem!” followed. The more experienced staffers, however, posited that this VShow, if developed correctly, just might have the talent and material to live up to expectations. We wish the VShow cast and crew the best of luck, and wait in anticipation for the April show.