Frosh Revue charms in spite of lackluster riffs

Though at times stale, the skits of ‘Froshablanca’ delivered a generally original and humorous take on frosh life at Williams.
Though at times stale, the skits of ‘Froshablanca’ delivered a generally original and humorous take on frosh life at Williams.

A Frosh Revue done right rakes through the many mundanities of our Williams existence and reflects them back at us so that, for just an hour, we might laugh at instead of live them. Froshablanca, which ran this past weekend on the MainStage at the ’62 Center, served up an often festive and inventive, but occasionally stale look at such go-to Williams axes as Amherst rivalry, Snack Bar centricity and a cappella singers who think they’re sexy. What certain skits lacked in originality, the cast made up for in energy, volume and pizzazz. The nine frosh belted, jigged and jumped around the stage for the duration, giving us humor, dance and chant (though rarely all at once) at full tilt.

A little dig at football players and alumni legacies is typically a winner, and Frosh Revue delivered: In one of several prospective student skits, admission director Madlyn Mgrublian ’13 promptly accepted one of each of these notoriously favored applicants who had demonstrably nothing else going for them. The tool who rides his bike to class even though it’s far more convenient to walk, the girl who takes seconds at Paresky and a guy who inserts breadcrumbs in the corners of The Eyes to simulate postmodern “eye boogers” all make an appearance in this pithy, hilarious series of sketches. Thumbs up to mocking the College’s inane admission policies and goofy, desperate prospective students.

Easily the highlight of the show was Owen Barnett-Mulligan ’13 as Incoming President Adam Falk: his squeaky curiosity and saccharinely go-get-’em attitude was a pitch-perfect satire of our president-in-waiting. Trying to rub elbows with elusively cool students, Falk picked up the lingo: “Mo money mo Snack Bar!” If only real presidents had the same comic timing as the masters of their pastiche.

The humor was crispest when the cast was current and specific: Invoking the person who always screams “I see you, girl,” from the audience at Sankofa stomp shows, the fact that the new library “shall be built in the near future” and that “the Purple Air is all around us” were all spot-on moments that showed what Froshablanca was made of.

The Winnie the Pooh riff was a surprising blast from the past, with Ryan Pavano ’13 playing a delightfully contemplative Pooh (“Do you ever stop to think and then forget to start again?”) and Chris Gay ’13 impeccably delivering the long-forgotten, signature whistle-lisp of Gopher.

The show also produced a few nuggets of vital Williams wisdom. Chanted to the tune of the All American Rejects’ “Dirty Little Secret,” the song about a secret romance between an artsy guy and an athletic girl culminated in a painfully true observation: “It’s a little Williams secret . . . Everyone knows!” And in the Matrix spoof, in which the Purple Air WiFi has put everyone under a spell, N“eph”o observes that “Their Facebook statuses are so rapid and specific, it’s almost unnecessary!”

While there was usually an amusing gag or line to smooth over the rough patches, there were several skits through which I impatiently tapped my toes, waiting for a more innovative idea or fresher take. The pirate-themed FRS entry, literally interpreted, was tired and drawn-out; I would arrrrgue that it’s been done before. And remember Oregon Trail? Yeah, me too – because our generation has been making jokes about the video game since we stopped playing 10 years ago. Unfortunately the Froshablanca Oregon Trail to Williamstown only had little amusement to add to the “caulk the wagon or ford the river?” dilemma except the (un)inspired naming of the greenish river the Green River.

On the whole the cast leaned a little too heavily on the fact that Amherst stole our books and that the Lord Jeffs are stupider than us (sigh), often characterizing our rivals over the mountains as Wile E. Coyote-esque dimwits, a sketch that was funny the first time but not the fifth. Songs like “Quarantine at Mt. Hope” were a great use of the here-and-now humor, but the lyrics themselves left a little too much to the imagination, with a chorus line that limply stated, “Swine flu is at Williams College.”

Frosh Revue was a spectacle of energetic pastiche and panache. If at moments lacking inspiration, the cast’s articulation of frosh life in the mountains was on the whole bold and amusing. Dust off their humor and I imagine we can expect more good things to come from the most energetic crop of frosh on campus.