Varsity Show

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The Varsity Show logo

The Varsity Show is one of the oldest traditions at Columbia University and its oldest performing arts presentation. Founded in 1894 as a fundraiser for the university's fledgling athletic teams, the Varsity Show now draws together the entire Columbia undergraduate community for a series of sold-out performances every April. Dedicated to producing a unique full-length spectacle that skewers and satirizes many dubious aspects of life at Columbia, the Varsity Show is written and inspired by an extensive team of cast, producers and production personnel.

Notable alumni[edit]

The long list of alumni who have written, performed, directed, worked backstage, or otherwise been associated with the show includes such distinguished names as:

The I.A.L. Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts[edit]

The I.A.L. Diamond Award is presented on annual basis to a Columbia or Barnard alumnus/a who has demonstrated continued commitment to and has found success in the arts. I. A. L. Diamond (1920–88) is the only individual to have written four consecutive Varsity Shows. He then went on to Hollywood to write eleven screenplays with Billy Wilder for the latter's films, including Some Like it Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960). Diamond and Wilder won the 1960 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Apartment.

In 2004, Terrence McNally was the first recipient of the award. McNally graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College with a B.A. in English in 1960 and went on to author works such as Master Class, Love! Valour! Compassion!, and Ragtime. During his senior year at Columbia, McNally wrote the 66th Annual Varsity Show, which featured music by fellow student Edward Kleban (who would later share the Pulitzer Prize for A Chorus Line) and was directed by Michael Kahn (later the artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.).

In 2005, Jeanine Tesori, Barnard College Class of 1983, was honored with the award. Ms. Tesori was the music director for the 89th Annual Varsity Show and then came back a year in 1984 to write the music for the 90th Annual Varsity Show. She is a three-time Tony Award nominee for her work on Twelfth Night (1998, Lincoln Center), Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Caroline, or Change.

In 2006, Art Garfunkel, Columbia College Class of 1962, received the award. Mr. Garfunkel is best known as half of the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel.

In 2007, Brandon V. Dixon, member of the Columbia College community, received the award. Mr. Dixon performed in the cast of the 107th Annual Varsity Show. He later received a Tony Award nomination for his performance of Harpo in The Color Purple. He also originated the role of Simba in the national tour of The Lion King.

In 2008, the award was presented to Tom Kitt (CC '96) and Brian Yorkey (CC '93). For their musical Next To Normal, featuring music by Kitt and book/lyrics by Yorkey, the pair won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Original Score and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. While at Columbia, the duo wrote the music, lyrics, and book to the 100th Annual Varsity Show, Angels at Columbia: Centennial Approaches.

In 2009, the award was presented to Diane Paulus, a teacher at Barnard College, Columbia School of the Arts graduate, and, most recently, director of the Tony-winning revival of Hair.

In 2010, the award was presented to Twyla Tharp, a Barnard College '63 alumna. She is the choreographer of many famous dances, multiple Broadway shows, and the film version of the musical Hair. She is the winner of Tony and Emmy awards.

127 Years of the Varsity Show[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibitions | The Varsity Show: A Columbia Tradition - Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein". Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  2. ^ "Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibitions | The Varsity Show: A Columbia Tradition - I.A.L. Diamond". Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  3. ^ a b "Sing a Song of Morningside". The Varsity Show. Retrieved 2020-08-07.
  4. ^ Shachter, Susan (May 5, 2015). "The Salon: You Will See the Doctor Now". Barnard College. Retrieved June 8, 2019.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]