At 9 o’clock sharp this past Thursday, the doors of Lerner’s Roone Arledge Auditorium swung open as members of various performance troupes stormed the tables for the best seating available. This, however, was ultimately in vain; in short order, many had taken to the dance floor, leaving only small pockets of students clustered around the edges.
This was the start of Columbia University Performing Arts League’s 19th Annual Showcase, which brought together a collection of musicians, dancers, and performers for a night of revelry and inside jokes.
“I’m just happy to be here, because this is the most social capital I am ever going to have,” said host Gaby Ferrell, BC ’19, opening the showcase with this shout over a roar of applause and howling.
Other hosts included Kosta Karakashyan, CC ’19, Emma Smith, BC ’19, and Xander Browne, CC ’19. In the past, hosts have offered a friendly roast of the many groups in attendance, but this year the material strayed more toward the self-congratulatory than the self-deprecating. Karakashyan even rehashed a joke about Orchesis as a strip club from a previous year, much to the elation of the group.
The night is often called “theater prom” thanks to the high attendance of theater ensembles, but Orchesis and the Columbia University Wind Ensemble also made appearances and put on performances. In total, nine groups gave small shows throughout the night, in addition to a toast to the senior class led by the hosts.
LateNite Theatre delivered an absurd sketch titled “Grandpa, why won’t you look at me?” In this skit, a woman goes to such extreme lengths to gain her grandfather’s attention that she gets married, has kids, and ultimately fakes her death. Lastly, the Varsity Show closed the night with a song satirizing the hyperintellectualism of Barnard and Columbia’s humanities courses.
“Don’t worry, LateNite; we have ice buckets and CAVA waiting out back for whenever you’re ready to head home,” Ferrell said.
Yet, the most riotous performance of the evening came from the hosts themselves, who stripped down and strutted around to the theme from “the Pink Panther.” Both ridiculous and hilarious, it was by far the best joke of the night.
The night played out with more dancing, as the last hour of the reserved time in the space was left to the whims of the students, who were only told “those doors bad, these doors good” while the hosts gestured back and forth between the fire doors and the entrance.
While the night was joyous to any and all members of Columbia’s performing arts community, the night verged on parody of itself. A prom for theater students, and if it wasn’t invitation-only, it wouldn’t work—so much of the humor, references, and performances were geared to appease a singular audience: the next group performing.