Varsity Show

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Varsity Show
Founded: 1894
Recognition: ABC
Membership: 22
Executive Board: Director and 2 Producers
Category: Performance
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See also Wikipedia's article about "Varsity Show".

The Varsity Show, founded in 1894 as a fundraiser for the university's fledgling athletic teams, is one of the university's oldest traditions, and certainly its oldest performing arts tradition. Every year, the Varsity Show produces a unique full-length show that skews and satirizes many aspects of life at Columbia. And every year, students, administrators, and many more members of the Columbia community pack Roone Arledge Auditorium to engage in the century-old tradition of the Varsity Show.

Ironically, many of the administrators being parodied and lambasted are often sitting in the front rows of the audience. No study has been conducted to determine whether these administrators realize there's a reason they're being ridiculed on stage.

The VShow has been accused of nepotism. In 2013, for instance, the new creative team... strongly resembled... the previous one[1]. The show has also been accused of harboring sexual predators. And, among the worst of their offenses, V Show is usually considered unfunny or off-target in its humor. This includes a total misjudging of what their audience wants to hear/see (a more than proportionate share of settings and themes deal with only Barnard College, which can annoy and alienate CC, GS, and especially SEAS students). Being the "top" theatre performance group on campus, they also get a little peeved at negative reviews or receptions of their shows. This has led to consistent antagonism with Bwog, which usually finds Varsity Show to be underwhelming.

The 2006-2007 show had an allocation of $14,500.00, though most of the show's revenue comes from ticket sales.

Past directors and writers include such distinguished names as Oscar Hammerstein, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers, I. A. L. Diamond, and Herman Wouk.

Show Preparations

In early October, the previous year's creative team interviews and auditions candidates to succeed them, and chooses a creative team of eight or nine students, filling the following roles: producer, director, writer, composer/lyricist, choreographer, and art director. The newly-minted creative team runs auditions for actors in late November/early December. The Varsity Show is notoriously the most selective casting process in Columbia theatre, and the results are always the result of much gossip and debate. Though the numbers vary from year to year, around 150 people audition for the show, singing a one-minute song selection, performing a scene with a random partner, and sometimes being asked to do improv comedy. From this group, around 25 people are asked to attend cast callbacks. An invitation to callbacks is automatically extended to performers from past Varsity Shows. Callbacks are typically held on a Saturday from 8am until 3pm. Those who have been called back perform a monologue of a "Columbia character," do improv within said character, and learn an original song and dance. From the performers that participate in callbacks, the creative team casts twelve to fifteen. The debates over casting notoriously span hours, and the new cast is welcomed into the Varsity family through a special ritual that's stuff of rumors and legend (although pictorial evidence shows that cream pies are somewhat involved).

West End Preview

Around mid-February, the Varsity Show team presents a cutting of some scenes and songs that have been written so far to the general public at Havana Central. This tradition dates back to before the West End bar was replaced by Havana Central, as the name suggests. For a nominal fee, the general public is encouraged to come preview the work that the Varsity Show team has produced. As of 2015, the West End Preview is performed on campus (at the Event Oval in the Diana).

Turkey Day

Midway through March, alumni of past Varsity Show creative teams and casts are welcome to watch a full draft of the Varsity Show, and are then welcome to submit critiques for the purpose of creating the best show for the general public. The discussions and original draft of the show previewed at Turkey Day are highly confidential[2].

Days on Campus

During Days on Campus, visiting prospective students get to watch portions of the newest Varsity Show as one of their activities. Notably in 2015, the administration objected to the content in the 2015 show and instead members of previous Varsity Shows were asked to perform older songs [3].

Class Act

During NSOP, members of previous Varsity Shows are welcome to come back and perform a "cabaret" of past Varsity Show songs and skits for the incoming freshman class in Roone.

2013-2014 Cast


Sam Balzac, CC ’17 Ellie Beckman, CC ’16 Brittany Beljak, BC ’16 Lacey Bookspan, BC ’17 Michael Carter, CC ’14 Alex Donnelly, CC ’14 Lindsay Garber, BC ’16 Emma Grueskin, BC ’17 Kyle Marshall, CC ’17 Brittany Searles, BC ’17 Matt Soto, CC ’16 Sean Walsh, CC ’14

Creative Team:

Director: Emily Feinstein, BC ’14 (Actor, V116) Producers: Allie Carieri, CC ’15 (Actor, V118); Ally Engelberg, BC ’15 (Producer, V119); Renée Kraiem, BC ’14 (Stage Manager, V119) Composer: Solomon Hoffman, CC ’14 (Composer, V118) Lyricist: Nick Parker, CC ’14 (Lyricist, V119) Writers: Rae Binstock, CC ’15; Eric Donahue, CC ’15 (Writer, V119) Choreographer: Lauren Wingenroth, BC ’15 (Assistant Choreographer, V119) Art Director: Jiin Choi, CC ’14 (Art Director, V119)


  • The Varsity Show coined the term "PrezBo".
  • Sometimes called VShow or Veesh.
  • "Roar, Lion, Roar" is based on a Varsity Show melody.

See also

External links