Category: Arts and Entertainment

Looking to explore New York’s theater scene? While tickets can be expensive or hard to come by at times, we’ve compiled some of the best ways to secure yourself a seat in the theaters where it happens.

Want to enter ticket lotteries and buy tickets, but don’t feel like making the effort to leave campus? TodayTix is the perfect app for you. At the click of a button, you can buy tickets and even enter lotteries. The application is a great way to easily plan Broadway and Off-Broadway show events with your friends. You can also get $10 off your first order using the code VMANV.*
*Affiliate code
If you’re walking around Times Square and want to buy Broadway tickets at up to 50% off, visit the TKTS booth in the middle of Times Square. Everyday they sell tickets to shows with extra seats left so this is a great way to get a seat in any of the area’s popular shows.
At the start of the semester, The TIC, located in Lerner Hall begins selling discounted tickets for specific dates to certain Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. In the past, tickets have been sold at significant discounts to Hamilton, School of Rock, and Wicked. Due to the limited supply, students have been known to camp outside the TIC booth starting as early as 8AM to secure tickets to some of the more popular shows. A list of performances for the fall semester is posted on their website a few weeks before the booth opens for the semester.
General Rush:
Several productions offer discounted tickets starting at 10AM the morning of the show at their theater’s box office. If you want to secure a ticket, be sure to arrive 1-2 hours early depending on the show’s popularity.
Trying to score tickets to one of Broadway’s most in-demand productions? We can’t guarantee you tickets, but here are the best tips we have, courtesy of Allison Talker, CC ’19, and a Broadway lottery expert:
You just have to enter the online lottery every day for evening and matinee because they don’t have a live lottery any more (winners pay $10 for front row tickets). Most other shows have rush tickets that you can get at the box office at 10 am.
Right now, Hamilton has 1 live lotto on Wednesdays for the matinee. The winner is drawn at 12:30 for the 2 pm show.  Pro tip:  Fold your ticket into weird shapes.
Think we missed a good tip on how to get into Broadway shows? Send us an email at team@columbialion.com.

Meet Brandon Victor Dixon. Dixon, a Columbia College Class of 2007 graduate, is a two-time Tony Award Nominee. During his career, he has performed in various Broadway shows (including Columbia’s very own Varsity Show). Starting in August 2016, Dixon will assume the role of Aaron Burr in Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show, Hamilton: An American Musical. As he prepares for his role, I sat down with him to talk about his career in the performing arts and his insights on pursuing your dreams and excelling in your career.

What did you study while at Columbia, and do you have any favorite memories from your time there? 

I was an Economics major initially. I left after my first semester senior year, but when I came back and I finished, I was a theater major. My favorite memories from school were of working on the Varsity Show V107 and V108.

What first sparked your interest in theater, and how did you explore that field as a student? Was it mostly through the Varsity Show?

I came to Columbia because I knew what I wanted to do, and I just wanted to go to school in New York so that I could audition and build my career. That’s why I came to Columbia, and I appreciated that Columbia had a campus, and a vibrant curriculum that I could delve into and expand my information base in general. But no, I didn’t go to Columbia to train, or help my career, though a lot of the work I did and the classes I took were of great help and education to me in the theater department at large. I came to Columbia so that I could be in New York.

What were some of the shows you’ve performed in prior to Shuffle Along, and now, Hamilton starting next month?

The Lion King, The Color Purple, Rent, Far from Heaven, The Scottsboro Boys.

With your recent casting as Aaron Burr in Hamilton, how are you preparing for the role? Are you nervous about anything about it?

Nope. It will be a good time. I’m working on a lot of the movement. The movement style is a little different for me so I’m focusing on the movement, but I’m approaching it like anything else. I’m doing my research. I’m learning the material. It’ll be interesting replacing someone in such a big and involved show. I’m going to be learning it even as I’m performing it.

What’s the most surprising or interesting that’s happened to you while performing and go like backstage?

While performing I fell in the orchestra pit one time. That’s one of the more interesting things. I can’t really think of anything that stands out about anything that’s happened backstage but definitely falling in the orchestra pit, that was an interesting one.

 What has been your favorite role to perform so far and why?

Eubie Blake in Shuffle Along. I’ve learned more about myself as a human being in this show and about all of us as human beings in the show. Also, it’s a culmination of everything that has come before it, so you know, it embodies all of the things that you see.

What general advice would you give to students interested in pursuing their career in theater and the performing arts?

The thing I’d say to anybody interested in pursuing anything: there are no rules, your power and ability are limitless, and keep going.

With Hamilton, did you know that you wanted to play Burr, or did they offer that role to you?

I didn’t want to be Burr … I wasn’t interested in doing the show because it’d been done. I don’t tend to replace. My goal is almost always to create something new but this is a unique show, and a unique opportunity and it came on at kind of the right time. The more they talked to me about it, and the more I thought about it, the more excited I did get about the process of joining the show. I am happy; it’s going to be a new experience.

What keeps you excited about being in theater? Is it that the audience has you perform? Is it just the idea of taking on the role of a new character? What motivates you or drives you?

Creating. Creation is what drives me. The reason we are here on this planet is to connect more deeply with ourselves and with each other, and art, and performance, and theater I think is a tool that I’ve come here with to make use of. Creating stories in this way, particularly … In art in general, particularly in live theater, it is a highly communicative, community experience. We get to share something special in that moment of time and that room with one another … And we leave transformed, and that is the important to evolve, to transform, to emote, and to connect with one another.

Since a lot of the people who will be reading this are incoming students, like this is their first time in New York, some have never seen a Broadway show. Do you have any advice for them like for shows they should, or general ideas and tips about what the magic behind Broadway is, in a sense?

The magic behind Broadway is that the people on stage create something from nothing. It’s creating magic, and it helps inspire you to create something from what you have. New York is a cultural bastion unlike any other. So see everything you can, do everything you can. Big, small, do it all.

 As you prepare for Hamilton, what’s your favorite song so far, whether it’s one you’ll be singing, or one some other character will be singing?

My favorite track in Hamilton is Guns and Ships but my favorite song to sing in that obviously is Wait for It.

Can I ask why Wait for It is going to be your favorite one to sing?

I think because I’m exploring the detail of the song but the thing that it sticks out for me is the chorus. Not a love, nor death, nor life, you know. It says,

Life doesn’t discriminate

between the sinners and the saints

it takes and it takes and it takes

and we keep loving anyway

we laugh and we cry and we break and we make our mistakes

And if there’s a reason I’m still alive

While everyone who loves me has died

and I’m willing to wait for it.

So minus the coda at the end, it’s that element of that’s true. Life is that, as is love, as is death, and they are all phases of the same thing, and they do not discriminate according to who you are.

Whether you are good or bad, it’s going to take something but you have to keep giving to it. It’s kind of a mini-encapsulated message about the circle of life, and what living is about. It’s a song with no resolution. He doesn’t figure anything out by the e`d of it. He starts affirming something, and then he starts questioning it, but then he finds himself left with a question in the end of it. It’s interesting piece but it’s one that’s resonated with me.

Brandon will begin performances as Aaron Burr in Hamilton: An American Musical starting in August 2016. For tickets to the show’s New York production, visit the show’s Broadway site.

Interested in interviewing students and alumni about how their time at Columbia has shaped their experiences and outlook? Join The Lion Profiles team by sending an email to team@columbialion.com.

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This past spring, Korean violinist Hyung Joon Won visited several college campuses across the Northeast, including Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton, to speak about the Lindenbaum Project. While at Columbia, Won met with students from Columbia’s chapter of Liberty in North Korea as well as students from various campus music groups.

Won began the project in 2009, with the goal of easing tensions and bringing harmony to North-South Korean relations through classical music. Based on precedents such as the West-East Divan Orchestra between Israel and Palestine and El Sistema in Venezuela, the project’s goal is to harness the power of classical music for social change.

Won has long been recognized for combining musicianship and activism. As a soloist he has toured worldwide in collaboration with orchestras such as the Hong Kong Pan Asia Philharmonic, Massapequa Philharmonic, and the Marrowstone Festival Orchestra. In 1990, Won performed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, celebrating the reunification of East and West Germany. In 1996, he performed at the UN General Assembly Hall under the theme World Peace.

A collection of musicians, students, and activists has joined Won in reaching his goal. Notably, Maestro Charles Dutoit of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra has backed the project.

Columbia’s own Gary Kim (SEAS ‘18) has spearheaded a new technology-based project that will feature an international collaboration of musicians in a recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Between 2011 and 2015, Won made several attempts to organize a joint live concert between North and South Korean musicians. However, each time one of the governments rescinded permission to do so at the last minute, due to a sudden rise in political or military tensions. Kim’s technology-based solution allows for remote recordings of each part in the symphony, temporarily eliminating the need for organizing logistics across the border. Won’s hope is that the technology-based project will be a first step to displaying the peacemaking power of music.  

In April, students from Columbia and Harvard helped Won and Kim submit a proposal for the 2016 Google Impact Challenge. If awarded, funding from this challenge will help spread awareness of the Lindenbaum Project and garner more international support.

Won will be returning to New York this July to give talks at the Waterfall Gallery.

Spring has sprung, and with spring comes the Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s Spring Performances. Each of the six pieces added a certain je ne sais quoi that contributed to the show’s cohesiveness as a whole.

“Vanilla Extract” seemed to be comment on how society strives for perfection. The dance opened on a fairly dark stage, with the dancers walking in two circles as if they were the hands of a clock. Then, one by one, the dancers slowly broke off from the line and began to pantomime washing different parts of their bodies. The motifs of straights lines and circles echoed throughout the piece, both in the the dancers’ limbs and movements. The music was static-y and lacked a solid beat, but fit the piece perfectly.

“Ellington Episodes” followed more of a storyline. The music was different  instrumentals of the Duke Ellington’s  works. The first song served to introduce the dancers: three ladies in sparkly, 1920s style dresses, and two guys in suspenders and button downs. In the second song, the boys overtly admire the girls’ beauty and try to catch their attention. At the end, one of the guys ran offstage with two of the girls, leaving the remaining couple for a pas de deux. The duo was slow and sweet, with a soft, slow tune to go along with it. The last piece was an upbeat, thigh slapping, hand clapping celebration, and seemed to showcase more 1920s era pieces. Overall, the each episode showed off the female dancers’ superior pointe technique and male dancers’ strength and stamina.

The next piece, “Nobody Will Miss Us,” was a stark contrast to the previous one, and a personal favorite. This dance also seemed to have episodes within it, but they were less clearly defined. The dance started with a darkened stage and dancers who covered their eyes with their hands. Each dancer wore a light purple dress with a darker purple shift underneath, and they frequently used their dresses as props during the dance. The somber mood of the dance evoked thoughts of a dark harvest dance or an initiation of some sort. The dancers’ movements and the dark stage made them appear positively ghostly.

“Valse Fantasie” was a bright Balanchine piece with lots of jumping and spinning. The dancers’ arm movements were flowy and light, and their long white tutus added to the piece’s breezy vibe.

“Solidarity” was a minimalist piece that featured live piano music. The dancers wore nude colored leotards or shorts. This piece also had a weightlessness to it, but it was more reserved than the previous dance. “Solidarity” featured three solos, two duets, and one trio. Near the end of the dance, the pairings bled into each other and became less distinct. The music was haunting and yearning, and the dance contained much dragging and many complex lifts.

“Before and After” was an upbeat piece that featured many sharp angles and lots of turns. Curiously, though the dancers were en pointe and pointed there feet as required, they flexed their feet often as well. This piece was a bright end to a diverse and captivating show.

 

Photo Courtesy of the Varsity Show

Last night, members of The Lion went to watch the Varsity Show’s 122nd production. We’ve compiled our take as well as comments we collected from students at the performance to help you decide whether you should go watch the show.

Comments from Lion Writers:

Upon entering Roone, we were handed the show’s booklet styled in what appeared to be a Blue and White Magazine. As we perused through the booklet, the show’s creative team divulged detailed interviews of the cast along with a breakdown of the show that hinted the show would be starting fashionably late (16 minutes to be exact) and a whole host of other humorous content. But even though the guide indicated the show would conclude by 10:18PM, it did not end until 10:48. We don’t know what happened there, but we were more than ok with that.

The show was absolutely phenomenal. From start to finish, the show captured the audience’s attention and with a good dose of humor, recanted many of the motifs commonly found in Varsity Show productions. Bar some sound issues with the microphones, it was quite clear how much effort went even into the smaller details of the show. Even when approaching controversial topics, the writers successfully created jokes that poked fun of the issues, but were not controversial to cause backlash or offend students and staff.

It was also nice to see a same-sex relationship featured as a major component the show. As far as we are aware, this is the first instance of this in a Varsity Show production and it was nice to see. The audience felt the same way based off the loud cheers that emanated throughout Roone.

If we had to pose a criticism, we would say the show was a bit too ambitious. In trying to incorporate so many issues into one two and a half hour production, it felt like several details were ignored. For instance, Jenny Park, the protagonist (played by April Cho CC ’17), refers to being a first-generation student, but this plot point is not really fleshed out. In addition, the show clearly tried to update itself to incorporate more topics given the addition of references to the proposed new sculpture set to be installed in front of Butler Library. It would have been nice to see points like these incorporated into the production that were more than just a few comments.

Overall, we would highly recommend going to the show. It was an ambitious production, but it definitely lived up to much of its hype.

Comments from students and alumni:

To better understand student reactions to the production, our team went out and polled students from a variety of academic years and backgrounds about their reactions. Check out what students said below.

“I want someone to look at me the way Professor Wilkenson (Henrietta Steventon) looked at that wine bottle” – SEAS ’17

“Is it bad I could easily imagine Dean Kromm prancing around campus in colonial wear?” – CC ’18

“Lin-Manuel Miranda, you have some competition coming from uptown” – CC ’18

“I actually thought I would die laughing when they all started singing ‘There’s a dead white man inside us all’ ” – CC ’19

“How do these people have the time to write and create an entire musical in a semester? That was phenomenal. I cannot imagine the amount of work that went into making that.” – CC ’17

“I liked the part where George was expelling students and then became ambivalent to the show.” – SEAS ’18

“Who did the reading for today? I’m sorry, I meant, Who wants to talk about the reading we were supposed to do? That’s was too real. Literally what every CC class is like”  – CC ’18

“Their take on campus activism was spot on.” – SEAS ’16

“How does a dead white man get into Pith and I’m still on the damn wait list???” – CC ’18

“I couldn’t stop laughing after Professor Wilkenson (Henrietta Steventon) yelled at Shreyas Manohar’s character to check his privilege after he desperately asked for help” – CC ’19

“I liked the show from two years ago a lot more” – SEAS ’18

The Varsity Show is performing through May 1st with showings at 2PM and 8PM. Be sure to buy a ticket (starting at $7) from the TIC or online here.

Have a comment or response you want to share? Comment below or email us at submissions@columbialion.com.