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 poster for Fly With Me, the 1920 Varsity Show. The music was cowritten by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and also included songs previously written by Oscar Hammerstein II, making the show one of the first collaborations between Rodgers and Hammerstein, and one of the only collaborations between all three men.[1]
The poster for Half Moon Inn, the 1923 Varsity Show, for which the tune for "Roar, Lion, Roar" was originally written
The poster for On the Double, the 1944 Varsity Show. During World War II, Columbia housed a branch of the United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School.

Alumni who have written, performed, directed, worked backstage, or otherwise been associated with the show include:

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. 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 and has won a Tony and an Emmy.

Past Varsity Shows[edit]

  • 1894: Joan of Arc
  • 1896: The Buccaneer
  • 1897: Cleopatra
  • 1899: Varsity Show
  • 1900: The Governor's Vrouw
  • 1901: The Princess Proud
  • 1902: The Vanity Fair
  • 1903: The Mischief Maker
  • 1904: The Isle of Illusia
  • 1905: The Khan of Kathan
  • 1906: The Conspirators
  • 1907: The Ides of March
  • 1908: Mr. King
  • 1909: In Newport
  • 1910: The King of Hilaria
  • 1911: Made in India
  • 1912: The Mysterious Miss Apache
  • 1913: The Brigands
  • 1914: The Merry Lunatic
  • 1915: On Your Way
  • 1916: The Peace Pirates
  • 1917: Home, James
  • 1918: Ten for Five
  • 1919: Take a Chance
  • 1920: Fly with Me
  • 1921: You'll Never Know
  • 1922: Steppe Around
  • 1923: Half Moon Inn
  • 1924: Old King's
  • 1925: Half Moon Inn (revival)
  • 1926: His Majesty, The Queen
  • 1927: Betty Behave
  • 1928: Zuleika, or the Sultan Insulted
  • 1929: Oh, Hector
  • 1930: Heigh-ho Pharaoh
  • 1931: Great Shakes
  • 1932: How Revolting!
  • 1933: Home, James
  • 1934: Laugh it Off!
  • 1935: Flair-Flair: The Idol of Paree
  • 1936: Off Your Marx
  • 1937: Some of the People
  • 1938: You've Got Something There
  • 1939: Fair Enough
  • 1940: Life Begins in '40
  • 1941: Hit the Road
  • 1942: Saints Alive
  • 1944: On the Double
  • 1945: Second the Motion
  • 1946: Step Right Up
  • 1947: Dead to Rights
  • 1948: Streets of New York
  • 1949: Mr. Oscar
  • 1950: Wait For It
  • 1951: Babe in the Woods
  • 1952: Streets of New York (revival)
  • 1953: Shape of Things
  • 1954: Sky's the Limit
  • 1955: When in Rome
  • 1956: Not Fit to Print
  • 1957: The Voice of the Sea
  • 1958: Streets of New York (revival)
  • 1959: Dig That Treasure
  • 1960: A Little Bit Different
  • 1961: Streets of New York (revival)
  • 1963: Elsinore
  • 1964: Il Troubleshootore
  • 1965: Destry Rides Again
  • 1966: The Bawd's Opera
  • 1967: Feathertop
  • 1978: The Great Columbia Riot of '78
  • 1980: Fly With Me (revival)
  • 1982: College on Broadway
  • 1982: Columbia Graffiti
  • 1983: Fear of Scaffolding
  • 1984: The New 'U'
  • 1985: Lost in Place
  • 1987: From Here to Uncertainty
  • 1988: The Bonfire of Humanities
  • 1989: Sans Souci, Be Happy
  • 1990: Behind the Lion Curtain
  • 1991: The Silence of the Lions
  • 1992: Columbia U, 10027
  • 1993: The Lion Game
  • 1994: Angels at Columbia: Centennial Approaches
  • 1995: Step Inside
  • 1996: Devil in a Light Blue Dress
  • 1997: Enlargement and Enhancement: The Scaffolding Years
  • 1998: Love is Indefinite
  • 1999: Beyond Oedipus: Leaving the Womb
  • 2000: Mo' Money, Mo' Problems
  • 2001: Sex, Lions, and Videotape
  • 2002: 108th Annual Varsity Show
  • 2003: Dial 'D' for Deadline
  • 2004: Off-Broadway
  • 2005: The Sound of Muses
  • 2006: Misery Loves Columbia
  • 2007: Insufficient Funds
  • 2008: Morningside Hates
  • 2009: The Gates of Wrath
  • 2010: College Walk of Shame
  • 2011: Another Scandal!
  • 2012: The Corporate Core
  • 2013: The Great Netscape
  • 2014: Morningside Nights
  • 2015: Almageddon
  • 2016: A King's College
  • 2017: A Tale of Two Colleges
  • 2018: Lights Out on Broadway
  • 2019: It’s a Wonderful Strife
  • 2020: We Hope This Musical Finds You Well
  • 2021: Campus in the Cloud
  • 2022: Well Endowed

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sing a Song of Morningside". The Varsity Show. Retrieved 2021-08-28.
  2. ^ a b c d "Sing a Song of Morningside". The Varsity Show. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  3. ^ a b c "Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibitions | The Varsity Show: A Columbia Tradition - Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein". exhibitions.library.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  4. ^ "Columbia University Libraries Online Exhibitions | The Varsity Show: A Columbia Tradition - I.A.L. Diamond". exhibitions.library.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  5. ^ a b "Sing a Song of Morningside". The Varsity Show. Retrieved 2020-08-07.
  6. ^ a b c d "Columbia Spectator 25 April 2002 — Columbia Spectator". spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  7. ^ "Columbia Spectator 30 November 2000 — Columbia Spectator". spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2021-08-29.
  8. ^ Shachter, Susan (May 5, 2015). "The Salon: You Will See the Doctor Now". Barnard College. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Columbia Spectator 10 April 2003 — Columbia Spectator". spectatorarchive.library.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2021-08-29.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]