“Cathartic entertainment” is much needed at Columbia right now, and this year’s 123rd Annual Varsity Show promises to deliver exactly that. The show’s West End Preview, which featured scenes cut from the final show so as not to reveal the plot, gave the audience a sample of what they can expect at the full show in April—plenty of singing, dancing, and columbia buy sell memes references.
Founded in 1894, the Varsity Show is Columbia’s oldest performing arts tradition, with a long list of renowned alumni such as Oscar Hammerstein II, CC 1916, Kate Mckinnon, CC ’06, and Jenny Slate, CC ’04. Every year, the completely student-run Varsity Show puts on a unique performance that satirizes the Columbia undergraduate experience, and last night’s preview was no exception.
“This year, we really wanted to focus on including everybody,” Director Kyle Marshall, CC ’17, said. “We wanted to make sure that no matter who you are in the audience, you saw yourself up on that stage and were not reduced to any stereotype.”
Traditionally, the Varsity Show abstains from revealing the plot of the show until opening night, which will take place on April 28 in Roone Arledge Auditorium. But the series of sketches presented at the preview were packed with enough allusions to satisfy the audience and highlight the struggles and joys of the current academic year. One storyline prominently featured the intoxicated School of General Studies student who got stuck in an air shaft in East Campus. Other references in the preview included Columbia Dining’s Surf and Turf, salmon shorts, the perils of going out on a Friday night, and even a brief mention of the “study the test, pupper’’ meme on Columbia’s notorious buy sell memes page.
“I think that the role of the Varsity Show is to serve as something that unites the whole community,” Marshall said. ”Columbia is always stressful, and some years are more stressful than others. We definitely want to address these issues—it is just a matter of balancing it within the show. We want to be able to let people to know that yes, this is a really stressful place, but lots of people are in the same boat, and we also want to encourage them.”
What else can audience members expect on opening night? It will certainly be more virtuosic compared to previous shows, with more singing and choreography.
But Marshall said the show will avoid too many political references.
“We are probably not going to address Trump unless he says something about Columbia, because it is sort of outside the scope of the Varsity Show, which focuses on what is going on in the school,” he said.
But until April 10, the script for the show will continue to be revised as current Columbia events continue to inspire the Varsity Show team. This means anything and everything that happens between now and then is fair game.