Frosh Revue, the annual Cap and Bells production, once again delivered a humorous, self-mocking and often too-true depiction of the life of a Williams student. The show ran last weekend at the ’62 Center and successfully incorporated the usual jabs at Amherst, mockery of naive freshmen, commentary on the academically rigorous lifestyle and acknowledgement of the College’s excellent ratings. However, a greater number of recent campus-wide changes afforded this year’s production, Afroshalypse Now, an opportunity for refreshing digressions from typical Frosh Revue jokes.
This year’s performance provided criticism of recent, less attractive circumstances on campus in a light-hearted and often facetious manner. Dining Services turned out to be a major theme of the production: Long lines at dinner after the closing of Dodd and Greylock and unpopular aspects of the new Snack Bar were mentioned more than once. Unsurprisingly, newly arrived President Falk was repeatedly referenced during the show. Frank Pagliaro ’14’s affectionate portrayal of Falk became a humorous motif, both relating different skits with a common character and revisiting jokes throughout the performance.
Afroshalypse Now used Williamstown’s quaintness and a lack of serious issues on campus as inspiration for a number of skits. Two prime examples, namely the Record’s difficulty in finding exciting news stories and a bored superhero named “Armstrong” who complained at the lack of crime, playfully pointed out the protective effect of the purple bubble. Even the “Greylock Holmes” number, a skit less grounded in actual events than the others, demonstrated the College’s isolation from real world crises. In it, Detective Holmes worked diligently to find the veggie-loving culprit responsible for the disappearance of junk food on campus. Apparently, fresh greens are the greatest evil among us.
In addition to addressing specific concerns of the College community, the production capitalized on pop culture highlights in its mimicry of the Williams experience. Though the “Moo’s Clues” skit began the show on a slower note, the Twilight spin-off set within the context of a WOOLF trip, “Bella Thompson meets Edward Chapin,” was one of the greatest hits of the night. Sarah Sanders ’14 and Michael Phillips ’14’s well-timed exaggerations of Bella’s awkward mannerism and Edward’s creepy-meets-dreamy gazes provoked laughter throughout the skit.
Though somewhat corny, the “Ephception” skit was similarly successful. Inspired by the recently released movie Inception, students used mind manipulation to convince Adam Falk to restore late-night grilled honey buns. “Ephception” was an excellent illustration of a skit that seamlessly weaved cultural references with current concerns on campus.
“The Dodds” and “An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse” drew material from two campus favorites, First Fridays and a cappella groups. The former cleverly imagined that First Fridays was invented by the gods who were searching desperately for ways in which stressed out students could unwind. The performers’ awkward dance moves also poked fun at the nerdiness of Williams students.
“An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse,” a skit about an “Ephcappella” family, covered an impersonation from every a cappella group. One, an Elizabethan member, spoke every line in Shakespearean English, and another was an Italian mobster who proudly belonged to a gang called the “Streetuhs.” The cast bantered about the stereotypes of beloved groups in a light-hearted manner while touching upon how these various groups have a family-like feel.
Belting inventively clever student-oriented lyrics to familiar tunes, the cast of Afroshalypse Now demonstrated singing ability in addition to theatrical talent in a series of musical numbers scattered throughout the show. “Freshman Dream,” whose lyrics were set to Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” was an especially touching highlight. A song whose lyrics proclaimed the first-years’ adoration of their JA’s, the cast emotionally appealed to students in all classes and even charmed non-student members of the audience.
The first-years closed the show with a song set to the music of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Its lyrics told the story of how students changed from dreading divisional requirements to enjoying courses outside their comfort zones in the spirit of a liberal arts education. In both this and other numbers, Afroshalypse Now employed witty lines, corny puns, subtle allusions and humorous imitations to portray how students had come to terms with the new College policies.
Though a few skits were not entirely riveting, the high energy level and winning one-liners kept the audience’s attention throughout the production. Some jokes were lost to muddled delivery, and occasionally the humor was too elementary to elicit the laughter it should have. Nonetheless, Afroshalypse Now balanced the cliché rags against Amherst and jokes about Snack Bar with refreshing commentary on current issues. The allusions to cultural phenomena including Twilight, Star Wars, The Devil Wears Prada and Inception ensured the skits were relatable to all audience members and not exclusively focused on “inside jokes” from the Williams community. This year’s show without a doubt maintained the high standards and expectations of Frosh Revue.