Tag: varsity show

Photo Courtesy of The Varsity Show.

The 123rd Annual Varsity Show has released tickets today via the Arts Initiative, so buy your tickets to this time-honored tradition before they sell out! There will be four different performances throughout the last weekend in April: Friday, April 28th at 8pm; Saturday, April 29th at 8pm; and Sunday, April 30th at 2pm and 8pm.

Tickets are tiered with GA Cinema/Balcony costing $8 with CUID-BCID/$12 Non-CUID, GA Floor costing $10 with CUID-BCID/$13 Non-CUID, Priority/Front Floor costing $12 with CUID-BCID/$17 Non-CUID, and VIP/Front Row costing $50.

You can purchase tickets here and RSVP on Facebook here.

Photo courtesy of The Varsity Show.

The Varsity Show is Columbia’s annual student-led, theatre performance that is the one of the biggest hits of the Spring semester. This year will mark the Show’s 123rd performance, and its purpose serves to be both “subversive and sentimental,” as per its mission statement.

During the “West End Preview,” I was able to catch a sneak peek of some portions of the Show; it absolutely lived up to the hype! It captured the #struggles of a Columbia student, from being stuck in an EC wall to our fake-it-till-you-make-it attitude that dominates campus culture.

Photo courtesy of The Varsity Show.

Photo courtesy of The Varsity Show.

Because the songs and acts were performed out of context, I was unable to decipher the plot of the show, though I did discover some nuances that will give an insight into the 123rd Varsity Show.

The Show featured the head of Public Safety not only as a pseudo narrator for the audience, but also as the main instigator of mischief and chief critic of Columbia’s administration. The most detailed act of the preview revolved around a newly admitted General Studies student. Besides being ~20 years older than the rest of Columbia’s undergraduate population, there was very little to separate him from a typical first-year. As he falls in love with Columbia’s perks–from Tom’s Diner to Surf ‘n Turf–he quickly realizes that all is not well with Columbia.

Unfortunately, that’s where the preview ended! I hope this information gives you a little taste of the hilariously exciting preview I had a chance to watch. The 123rd Varsity Show will perform from April 28th to 30th. Hope to see you there!

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.

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.

The Varsity Show began with a tour guide singing a catchy song about how great Columbia University is. At this point, I thought the Varsity Show would be a chipper piece about extolling the virtues of our great university.

As soon as an offstage actor threw a shoe at the tour guide and yelled, “No one gives a fuck!” I knew I was sorely mistaken.

The show loosely followed an alumni couple trying to decide if Columbia is the right school for their daughter — who hasn’t been born yet. The tour guide takes them to a typical Columbia classroom filled with stereotypical students and a drunk Professor. After an argument about why “the classics” are the classics (and if they should be considered classics after all), the class launches into dark tune called “There’s A Dead White Man Inside Us All.”

The alumni couple is fairly traumatized by the classroom discussion and discuss a world before trigger warnings, “safety spaces,” racism, and homophobia (which came about when “Ellen Degeneres invented it.”).

The couple then launches into “Greener Pastures,” a song that tells how they met each other and how the good old days are gone. This song wasn’t as strong as the first, but the faux ballet-like choreography was highly entertaining.

After the dance, a guy from Beta runs across the stage, handing out flyers for an upcoming party. The couple begs the tour guide for permission to go, and the tour guide reluctantly grants it.

Before the party, the audience sees the sisters of a sorority preparing. The preparation isn’t what you’d expect; the leader of the sisters urges them to remember the four B’s: “boobs, boos, boys, and backstabbing.” The couple goes to the party and is accepted by their respective Greek life group. When they question the slightly illegal things that are going on at the party, the entire group bursts into a rock song, “Leaders Tomorrow.” The song was about how the kids at the party are going places even though it doesn’t seem like it during their partying shenanigans. This was when the cast really showed their dancing skills. There had been dancing in “A Dead White Man Inside Us All, but it had mostly been sitting down. This dancing was fast-paced and intense, yet the cast was able to keep up their vocals and enunciation as they sang.

The show ended with the cast brandishing signs for the show’s official dates. Everyone left in a breath of exhilaration.

The Varsity Show Preview wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. Instead of the ragtag variety show I expected, it was a musical-quality show with a satirical edge. The Varsity Show wasn’t afraid to comment on uncomfortable things I realized as true. Not only did it make me think, but it made me chuckle. There’s no doubt this uncanny mix of truth and humor will delight almost everyone.

The Varsity Show runs from April 29 – May 2. You can grab your tickets here.