Category: Media

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.

Photo Courtesy CU Now Show

Have you seen the newest CU Now video? The video, released last night, features Shreyas Manohar (CC ’18) covering a gamut of issues alongside the Dean of Columbia College, James Valentini.

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

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By Yael Turitz (BC ’19)

I have a confession to make. I’m an addict.

No, I don’t struggle from alcoholism, or drug addiction, or even the newly psychologically recognized video-game addiction. I’m addicted to television.

I don’t mean to delegitimize the mental illness that is addiction. Thank God, I have never suffered from drug addiction or anything of the like and do not begin to claim I know what it feels like. And yet, I believe I too am an addict.

Addiction: “An unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something” (Merriam-Webster).

It’s 1AM on a Tuesday night and the man is turning his back on the only person who’s ever cared about him. His friend catches on, and suddenly it’s a brawl through the abandoned warehouse in Manhattan. With one knockout punch, it’s over. The screen turns black. I look over at my clock. 1:06AM. ABC’s Castle is over. My body is exhausted, but my mind is just getting started.

“Television is the bane of this generation.”

“The problem with today’s teenage population is that they spend too much time with their eyes glued to the television and never do anything productive with their time.”

“Studies have shown that people spend more time watching television today than they do working, or exercising, or having personal interactions.”

I’ve heard it all before. Grumbles of the men in my synagogue, the professors in my history class, my grandfather. But it can’t stop me.

My imagination thrusts into action. I take each individual character, major or minor, and imagine her background, his family life, his career plans, her goals. I forge relationships between characters, and I create new characters, to establish new bonds or to wedge distances between old ones. I get lost in my own mind.

I want to be a writer. Not a journalist, not an editor—a bona fide fiction writer. I know it’s crazy, idealistic, naïve- but nothing gets me going like a well-crafted story. My idols include people like Jane Austen and Aaron Sorkin.

When I watch an episode of the West Wing, I’m not aimlessly watching a laptop; I’m actively engaging with Josh and Donna and imagining just how beautiful Sorkin’s banter looked on a page. When I watched Downton Abbey each week (oh boy, here comes the loss-of-Downton tears), it wasn’t a time-waster; it was a gateway into a world of characters and story-lines I could mold in my mind. Episodes inspire me to do what I love.

It’s an addiction because it’s a need. Once I get going, there’s no stopping me. I need to see how my imagination from last week measures up against The Good Wife’s professional writers’. There’s an incredible satisfaction when I get it exactly right, and I get a bit smug if I think my story was better. Of course, many times I’m awed when the plot takes a twist I never saw coming. But I am only fully content when I’ve resolved this creative discourse going on in my head. Only then can I peacefully fall asleep.

Am I wasting my time? Sure, I could exercise more. (Actually, I probably should exercise more, but that’s beside the point.) And sure, sometimes I watch TV while procrastinating from doing work. But you know what? I resent the bad rap television has gotten. There are definitely shows out there- think Keeping Up With the Kardashians- that are a mindless waste of time. But quality television is not pointless. An episode of Homeland is just as gripping as Stephen King’s latest novel. Gilmore Girls’ script is as smart and creative as any Oscar Wilde play. And you can learn from shows like The Big Bang Theory or The Newsroom. I know many will hound me for attributing such greatness to the medium of modern television—but honestly, TV writers are some of the greatest creative minds of our time. And it’s not fair to them when we blatantly characterize their work as a “waste of time.”

I’m addicted to fiction, to plot-lines, to characters, to twists and turns. I get a high, all in my own mind, off of stories. Stories spark the creativity inside of me, and my passion for stories is fueled by shows on television. One day, I dream of being the one sitting behind the scenes as the cameras roll and the actors speak the words I’ve written. And one day, when you insult the medium of television, you’ll be insulting my hard work. TV writers deserve better than that. Our openness to creativity deserves better than that.

Also, if you need any series suggestions—hit me up.

 

Nearly a fifth of the operas appearing onstage this year at the Met were written by the 19th century Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, and together, they all provide the opportunity to experience the broad range of his artistic mastery. Already audiences have been treated to two of three operas of the “Tudor Trilogy,” dramas depicting the trials of British royalty and this season starring Sondra Radvanovksy. This season in March, two of his mirthful comedies share the stage. L’elisir d’amore (“The Elixir of Love”) opens at the end of this week, while Donizzetti’s outlandish farce Don Pasquale returned last Friday in a revival of an exuberant production by director Otto Schenk.

Beneath an evening of hilarious shenanigans lies a fairly simple plot. The old bachelor Don Pasquale has promised to bequeath a small fortune to his pouty nephew Ernesto as long as he agrees to marry the woman Pasquale has selected. Ernesto refuses, and Pasquale, with the aid of the wily Doctor Malatesta, decides to cast out Ernesto and find himself a young wife instead.

Pasquale is beside himself when Malatesta offers him the hand of his docile sister Sophronia, but little does he know that this delicate bride is none other than Norina, Ernesto’s beloved, in disguise. Before the ink can dry on their false marriage contract, Norina turns into a demanding shrew and terrorizes Pasquale unceasingly until he abandons any hope of marital bliss. Eventually, the young lovers are ultimately reunited, everyone is reconciled, and all join in proclaiming the opera’s wry moral: Only trouble awaits the old man who weds a young wife.

As the curmudgeonly Pasquale, rotund Italian baritone Ambrogio Maestri returned to the Met after past triumphs as the scheming Doctor Dulcamara in “L’elisir d’amore” and the buffoonish title character in Verdi’s “Falstaff.” A “maestro” of farce, Maestri brings impeccable timing and telling facial expressions to every outsized character he plays and excels at patter singing, a hallmark of Italian comic opera during which long lines of text are declaimed at great speed.

Making an exciting Met debut, soprano Eleonora Buratto conveyed Norina’s dual sweetness and cunning with lustrous timbre and dynamic physicality. Early on, the top of her range tended to get away from her, but as the evening progressed, she focused her tone and offered pure, creamy singing. Hers is a voice that will undoubtedly become rounded and more secure with time, but even on this occasion, she managed to blend nicely with her colleagues.

Rising Mexican tenor Javier Camarena played Ernesto, lending his supple instrument to yet another successful interpretation of beloved Bel Canto character. In this repertoire, there is often a risk that a tenor’s bright tone can grate on the ear, but Camarena’s warm, heartfelt voice and masterfully fluid phrasing always ensure great lyricism. The prolonged applause he received after his Act 2 aria “Povero Ernesto” was well deserved.

Rounding out the ensemble, Levente Molnár brought spirited panache to his portrayal of Malatesta, not only matching his colleagues’ winning stage presence and rapid-fire singing, but also bringing a rich depth to more expressive moments. On the podium, conductor Marizio Bennini evoked spirited color and Italianate style from the orchestra and chorus, though his pacing often got ahead of the action onstage, forcing the singers to struggle to keep up with the accelerated tempi.

While we await the end of winter’s chill, the lovable antics of “Don Pasquale” should warm the hearts of Columbia students desperately seeking an escape from impending midterms.

Performances of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale continue through March 18, with this Saturday’s matinee performance being broadcast live on WQXR 105.9FM. More information can be found online at metopera.org

Last night, Columbia University No Budget Sketch Show (CUSS) released their newest video, “Shmasterpieces of Western Lit: The Odyssey,” a video showcasing an overview of Homer’s Odyssey… from a different point of view.

Watch the video below.

Want to feature your club’s updates here? Email submissions@columbialion.com