Varsity Show review (spoilers!)
Don’t read this unless you’ve seen the show already/aren’t planning to see it at the 2 or 8 p.m. showing today. But you should really go see it. Get tickets here.
The 118th reincarnation of the V-Show portrays the struggle of classics/philosophy major Phineas, played by Sean Walsh, CC ’14, to defend the Core Curriculum against the corporate reform efforts of Columbia Career Education Director Niamh (pronounced “Neeeeev”) O’Brien, played by Rebekah Lowin, CC ’14. O’Brien, in an effort to enhance post-graduation employment rates, institutes the “Corporate Core.”
To humanities geeks like Phineas, the regimen of classes on sleaze and business protocol is intolerable, and he forms a protest coalition under the banner of Alma’s Army.
Thematically, the show does a good job of touching on hot-button issues of the past year such as Occupy Wall Street and the McKinsey report without resorting to the tired 99 percent jokes that killed every Halloween party.
The issues are nicely united as part of the main conflict, without getting lost in the subplots that have plagued V-Shows past.
Behind this all is a strong orchestra that plays out the catchy, tight songs with skill. Numbers like “Another Epic Day!” and “The 1 Percent” stand out, and Bwog-riffing “That’s How I Troll” is an absolutly brilliant display of musical force mixed with comedy (“Trolling in the Deep,” anyone?) and striking relevance.
Creatively, classic musical-theater standby (read: unusual but perfect choice) Dante brings the (disco) inferno to Phineas’s Wien single with “Another Epic Night.”
The artistic design team also deserves a round of applause for an immaculate set. Art Director Stephen Davan, CC ’12, reproduced a striking exterior of Hamilton Hall that seamlessly transitioned to scenes along Broadway and to Mel’s Burger Bar.
But the set couldn’t carry the weight of the show, which sags at times, usually under the heaviness of generic and bland Columbia tropes that have probably only sporadically been left out since V-Show 1.
An emphasis on stereotypical conventions over authenticity distanced the performance a little: The earthy, dreamy Barnard girl (Eleanor Bray, BC ’14) and vapid CC girl (Jenny Singer, BC ’15) seemed more like token stereotypes than fully fleshed-out characters. In plot as well, the writers retreated to overly familiar, somewhat gratuitous cliches: hookups “in the But”(ler stacks) and weepy girls blubbering outside of Koronet’s.
Read the full review here.
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