Baby Bwogger Amrita Banerji attended The 126th Annual Varsity Show’s West End Preview at the Glicker Milstein Theatre, directed by Sophia Houdaigui (BC ’21) and produced by Antara Agarwal (CC ’20) and Nakiri Gallagher-Cave (CC ’21).

For a thirty-minute preview at 8 PM on a Wednesday, there were an impressive amount of people present.  As the fluorescent lights dimmed and people started to quiet down, I noticed that around half the seats were filled by students supporting their fellow students.

For those unaware, Varsity Show is an annual, student-written, produced, and performed musical. Its “West End Preview” is a taste of the show that will go up in May, featuring select songs from the show — but with a unique script.  About eight years ago, West End started as a cabaret, performed at the West End Bar as a teaser for Varsity Show.

The plot was a bit chaotic, but in the best way: There was never a dull moment. The audience joined two Columbia students on their wild journey to uncover the mystery behind Bacchanal’s move off-campus to Terminal 5.  The cast humored us with witty one-liners, and there was something in it for everyone.

Notable performances included Jackie Chu (BC ’22), who played a young student who just wanted to “make it to the top” (relatable); Adam Kluge (CC ’22), whose exaggerated facial expressions and attitude were highly entertaining; and Erik Larsson (CC ’23), with a hilariously melodramatic performance.

Sophie Visscher-Lubinizki (BC/JTS ‘21) choreographed; I found her work to be one of the show’s key elements. One of my personal favorite numbers, “Eat the Rich,” made great use of the horizontal and vertical space provided. During this number, sung by Larsson and his posse, the characters lept from the table to the ground, spreading their arms, and sprawled out on the floor. Yet another great moment was a hip-hop piece in the middle of a waltz, which really enhanced that scene and drew attention to the versatility of the cast.

There weren’t too many technical elements to the show, but this lack of spectacle only highlighted the acting. It also helped actors connect with the audience — like when Naomi Rubin (BC ’23) stomped in with a flashlight from among the audience’s seats. The audience was integrated with the show throughout the performance.

Ultimately, when the house lights came back up with everyone still laughing, I left the preview with a sense of inclusion. As stated by Sophie after the show, one of her hopes is for “every single person to see this Varsity Show and see themselves or their club represented.” In such a prestigious environment, it’s important that there be a space for everyone to feel included in a fun tradition that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that takes a step back to remark on Columbia in a humorous way.

So, please come support your student theater community and see the 126th Annual Varsity Show:  May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd!

The 126th Varsity Show via Ohad Klopman