Your V122 Creative Team!!

We are pleased and proud to announce the creative team for The 122nd Annual Varsity Show!

Director: Jonah Weinstein, CC '16 (Actor, V119)

Producer: Michaela Schwartz, BC '18 (Assistant Stage Manager, V121)

Writers: Anika Benkov, CC ’16; Michael Rodriguez, CC ’16

Composers: Jake Chapman, CC ’16; Sofia Geck, BC ’17 (Assistant Music Director, V121)

Choreographer: Romi Messer BC ’16

Art Director: Isabel Nelson, BC ’16 (Assistant Art Director, V120)

Stay tuned for more information about interviews and auditions in November!

Posted on October 31, 2015 .

Our Fearless Leader: Molly Heller, Varsity Show Director

“To not take this particular year for granted.” That’s how Molly Heller, JTS/GS ’15, months ago decided to direct The Varsity Show. Every semester at Columbia has its controversies and protests, its movements and counter-movements, its defining moments talked about ad infinitum in the opinion section of The Spectator. But in what seems like an especially eventful year, Molly has chosen to “take on the hard challenges,” to make V121 a fun, funny, spectacular musical comedy as always, but also to emphasize its ability to critically reflect on our community, to “deal with the darker issues, to embrace them and tell a story with them.” Molly insists that “this show means something,” and that V121 won’t let us forget that.

Columbia’s Varsity Show tradition was a main reason why Molly decided to come to New York. She got in touch with David Offit, V116 alum as well as a fellow student in the JTS/GS dual degree program, who responded with a long Facebook message explaining the show and its unique opportunities. It was amazing to learn, she tells me, that a work of theatre was “the biggest event on campus, and such a large part of Columbia culture”—Molly just had to be a part of it. Now the first JTS/GS student to direct The Varsity Show (and the first one, in fact, to be on the creative team at all), she gets to carry on the tradition and shape it into something new.

Molly first became interested in theatre when she took acting as her high school art elective, though she had had singing lessons and belonged to her middle school improve club before.  “My freshman year I was the lead in the school play—the grandmother in Lost in Yonkers,” she tells me; she went on to star as the lead every year, alongside directing her own work.

She continued acting, writing, and directing here at Columbia—though not, at first, for The Varsity Show. “I auditioned for the cast of the 118th,” she laughs, “But didn’t get in.” Molly wound up a lead in V119, however, playing Millie, a Barnard student afraid of crossing below 110th street and bursting out of the Columbia bubble. She worked on the publicity team the subsequent year, and having run out of other positions, is now our fearless director. Molly praises the Columbia theatre community for its passion and talent: “There are so many smart theatre-makers working together here,” she says, who are dedicated to creating art for the Morningside community.

And art is what she has in mind for this year’s Varsity Show. “We’re aiming to make a statement together,” she explains, and “that requires artistic capabilities.” Molly and her team have a “trifecta” of goals for V121: “it should be cathartic, sentimental, and subversive.” It should be incisive, touching, and challenging at once, all done “in different ways but brought together,” unified, unifying. As difficult as it might be to orchestrate that kind of experience—and it must be somewhere close to impossible—Molly believes we deserve it, and has been working tirelessly for it to happen. Her hope is that students, faculty, parents, and community members alike feel in The Varsity Show all the joys and pains of this past year, all the challenges, all the brightest moments: that “it’s all there.”

Posted on April 11, 2015 .

Varsity Show Archives: I.A.L. Diamond

Just shy of 75 years ago, I.A.L. Diamond became the first and only Columbian to ever pen the The Varsity Show for four consecutive productions. Diamond would go on to make a name for himself in Hollywood, writing famous screenplays like the Academy Award-winning The Apartment and the Marilyn Monroe-starring Some Like It Hot, but before then he got his start right here in Morningside Heights.

His fourth and final Varsity Show in 1941, “Hit the Road,” featured football championship fixing, scheming West Coast starlets, and power-hungry politicians—all brought to life by Diamond’s characteristically witty jabs and thoroughly charming characters. In the depths of Butler’s archives we unearthed the script of his landmark work, and though it’s nearly three-quarters of a century old, his words still hold a distinctly Varsity Show, completely Columbia feel. We’ll have more in the way of old relics soon, but in the meantime, please share in our enjoyment of some of Diamond’s quotes and quips, and in our celebration of an iconic moment in Varsity Show history. 

Posted on March 26, 2015 .

She Did It All: Ally Engelberg, Varsity Show Four-Timer

Many credit The Varsity Show as the “beginning of their creative lives,” says Ally Engelberg, BC ‘15: herself included. Publicity team member of V118, producer for V119 and V120, and now alumni coordinator for our very own V121, Ally holds the rare and cherished position of four-timer. As someone whose college career has been defined and distinguished by The Varsity Show, Ally has fond memories and words of wisdom to share with us about her experiences.

Freshman year, Ally hadn’t heard of The Varsity Show—but when a friend brought her to the information session, she was hooked. She applied to be Assistant Producer but alas, having no experience, wasn’t quite qualified. Instead, Ally assisted with flyering and photo shoots, learning how the show worked as a publicity team member. Every little bit helps, especially in student theatre, and Ally would no doubt take this to heart as a producer of later shows.

“I thought the producers were like gods,” she says: “Like, I couldn’t look into their eyes.” She felt so impressed by The Varsity Show’s 118th that, over the summer between freshman and sophomore years, she would make friends listen to its soundtrack and walk her dog while singing along.

Of course, Ally had fun making friends and working on a great production, but she also recognized the importance of The Varsity Show to her future. “It’s the biggest opportunity for performing arts and entertainment,” she explains: “I totally credit The Varsity Show for my career aspirations.” While she always knew she wanted to be in the entertainment industry, making the show a reality each year has solidified and specified her goals.

As a producer, Ally learned to dream big: “I never said outright no,” she explains, instead asking “how can we get this done?” On the one hand, this speaks to the talent and resources of The Varsity Show; on the other, it’s the mark of a capable and indefatigable producer. Ally now works as V121’s alumni coordinator—a position she herself created, having seen the need arise in her other years on staff. She contacts “literal famous people” who often express nothing but joy at helping out their alma mater in some way. The community remains tight-knit as well as welcoming, both during college and after graduation. Even The Varsity Show’s most accomplished alumni, Ally says, never forget their roots.

In terms of challenges, Ally cites her past position as “liaison between the show and the administration” as potentially fraught with tension. The administration officially has no influence over each production, but that doesn’t mean The Varsity Show is without consideration: at times, she had to act as a representative of the administration to the creative team, not just the other way around. But this proved fairly problem-free, as the show always strikes a balance between satire and respect. The “whole point is to tackle whatever comes up,” she says, so the difficulties of each year makes for a better production in the end. “The worst thing that could happen is nothing.”

Ally lists three yearly events as “the collective experience” of Columbia undergraduates: homecoming, Bacchanal, and The Varsity Show. At such a diverse school in such a distracting city, Columbia students have a famously fragmented community, but she says The Varsity Show offers an opportunity for catharsis. Only Columbia has students “so sarcastic that we can make fun of ourselves for 120 years,” she says, and still point those jokes towards something constructive. “We can appreciate the challenges of the year, revisit them,” Ally explains—The Varsity Show is a chance to “create, at least for one-and-a-half hours during finals, one single community.” 

Posted on March 5, 2015 .

West End Preview Recap

Last Thursday, our West End Preview gave attendees a glimpse at how The 121st Annual Varsity Show will be tackling some of the greatest challenges Columbia students face: dealing with administrative bureaucracy, finding love in a hopeless place, and overpaying to drown our sorrows. Guided by Bwog’s head theatre critic Chub Tubbard and armed with the power of song and dance, lucky audience members were presented with three delightful sketches of V121 numbers.

Together we laugh-cried over Columbia’s financial aid (or lack thereof), wondered at the possibility of a romance despite (gasp!) ideological differences, and relished the topsy-turvy alternate universe otherwise known as Senior Night (as opposed to this universe, known as Butler).

All in all, the night was a rousing success—West End Preview gives us the opportunity to share our show so far, and there’s nothing as energizing or rewarding as the genuine appreciation of those we’ve worked so hard for. So to those who were able to lend their support in person, we of V121 thank you deeply. And if you weren’t able to make it, have no fear: we’ll be uploading the video soon! In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures from the night, and get ready for the full production this May. 

Posted on February 25, 2015 .

West End Preview

Before Bernheim & Schwartz replaced Havana Central, Havana Central replaced the West End—a bar that attracted famous jazz musicians, iconic beat poets, and most importantly, The Varsity Show. Each February, bits and pieces of the year’s upcoming production mingle together at the West End Preview, offering up a cozy sneak peek of Columbia’s oldest and boldest theatrical tradition. In the interest of delighting students, poking fun at faculty, and sampling our jokes and songs, we of V121 cordially invite anyone and everyone to come along this Thursday evening and participate in the making of the greatest show on the Upper West Side.

The 121st Annual Varsity Show's West End Preview will be held at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. in the Diana Event Oval this Thursday, February 19th. Admission will be $3 at the door. 

Posted on February 18, 2015 .

Welcome to V121

Since its inception in 1894, The Varsity Show has always been a place where the Columbia community can participate in some of our strongest, best-loved traditions: talking about ourselves, ragging on the administration, and disguising genuine appreciation with sarcasm and puns. Many productions have come and gone so far, covering topics ranging from the queen of Venus’s love life (The Mischief Maker, 1903) to the Berlin Wall (Behind the Lion Curtain, 1990), but the show has ever been reliably rebellious and nostalgic, critical and heartfelt. This part-satire of, part-love letter to Columbia charms us every year, giving freshmen a hopefully enlightening look ahead and seniors a precious glance back. We gather to laugh, to smile, to cheer, to roar. It is the single greatest product of our community’s hard work, creativity, and passion here at Columbia.

So for our 121st year, we of The Varsity Show would like to include you more behind the scenes. We want to show you pictures and tell you stories. We want to raise the curtain well before May—and we want to hear back from you, too. Because whether you’re an actor or an athlete, an English major or an engineer, The Varsity Show belongs to you. Our names may be in the playbill, but Columbia’s funniest, sincerest, most unique tradition is everyone’s to share. We hope you’ll join in the fun. Welcome to V121. 

Posted on February 14, 2015 .

Your Cast for V121

Auditions are done and the cast has been cast! V121 is officially underway. Here they are:

V121 Cast at Alma.jpg

Gabrielle Bullard, BC '18

Isaac Calvin, CC '17

April Cho, CC '17

Jahbril Cook, CC '17

Skylar Gottlieb, BC '16

Cole Hickman, CC '16

Varun Kumar, SEAS '16

Sophie Laruelle, CC '17

Megan Litt, BC '17

Michael MacKay, CC '15

Alina Sodano, BC '17

Asher Varon, JTS/GS '18


Posted on November 25, 2014 .

V121 Creative Team Announced!

We are thrilled to announce the creative team for The 121st Annual Varsity Show!

DIRECTOR: Molly Heller, JTS/GS’15 (Actor, V119)

PRODUCERS: Nikita Ash, BC’16, and Emily Snedeker, CC’16 (Publicity Manager, V120)

COMPOSERS/LYRICISTS: Sam Balzac, CC’17 (Actor, V120), and Fernanda Douglas, CC’16 (Actor, V119)

WRITERS: Ally Horn, BC’16 and Bijan Samareh, CC’15

CHOREOGRAPHER: Chloé Durkin, CC’15

ART DIRECTOR: Isabella Rosner, CC’17 (Costume Designer, V120)

Posted on November 2, 2014 .

Your V120 Creative Team

V120 is officially underway! Here is the newly minted C-Team:

DIRECTOR: Emily Feinstein (BC’14) -- Actor, V116


Allie Carieri (CC’15) -- Actor, V118

Ally Engelberg (BC’15) -- Producer, V119

Renée Kraiem (BC’14) -- Stage Manager, V119


Rae Binstock (CC’15)

Eric Donahue (CC’15) -- Writer, V119

COMPOSER: Solomon Hoffman (CC’14) -- Composer, V118

LYRICIST: Nick Parker (CC’14) -- Lyricist, V119

CHOREOGRAPHER: Lauren Wingenroth (BC’15) -- Assistant Choreographer, V119

ART DIRECTOR: Jiin Choi (CC’14) -- Art Director, V119


Posted on October 28, 2013 .

Downloadable Songs

It's the start of a new year and we're making improvements! Due to popular demand, we have made the Varsity Show soundtracks downloadable. Just click the link above the first track on any "Past Shows" page, and you can download all songs free of charge. Enjoy!

Posted on September 11, 2013 .

"The Campus is Buzzing": V114 on YouTube

Check out the newest online upload of Varsity Shows from the past. V114 (Morningside Hates) is on YouTube, featuring Barnard uprisings, public safety machinations, and a favorite Columbia pastime: hate. Also, don't forget to grab tickets to V119 -- it's less than two weeks away and they are selling fast!

Posted on April 24, 2013 .

Tickets are on sale!

The wait is finally over! The 119th Annual Varsity Show is only two weeks away and you can buy your tickets today. Evening shows are May 3-5 at 8pm and the matinee is May 5th at 2pm. Follow the link and grab your seats before the shows sell out!

Tickets start at $7 and will be sold through the Columbia Ticket Information Center (TIC) in Lerner Hall. You will be able to pick up your tickets at will call the night of the performance. Don't hesitate to use the "Contact" form at the top if you have any problems.

V119 poster.jpg
Posted on April 18, 2013 .

Welcome to the new website!

At long last, we've decided to update the Varsity Show website. The new platform is more media friendly, allowing us to put up the full videos of old shows, large photo slideshows, and of course, have a blog! We have also made it simple to contact the show's producers directly and sign up for updates about tickets sales. In the coming months, we'll be adding more videos, photos, and material, so stay tuned.

This is just the start of move toward a more digitized Varsity Show. In addition to the new site, we are working with the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library to present an online archive of materials dating all the way back to 1894. That means sheet music from the very first Varsity Show, pictures from rehearsals in John Jay Lounge in the 1930s, and posters and programs from the days Varsity Show performed at the Hotel Astor downtown.

The new website comes just in time for V119, which opens in less than a month! Check back here for more information and publicity videos as we get closer. We're thrilled to be launching an updated platform for the first time in a decade, and hope you enjoy the new site. We expect there are still a few kinks to be ironed out, so don't hesitate to shoot us a message with ideas about what you might want to see on the website. In the meantime, enjoy exploring past shows, read up on some v-show history, and we'll see you at V119!

Posted on April 9, 2013 .