“You’re as useless to me as the Paresky fireplace.”
“My flashcards are laminated so I can review in the shower.”
“For the love of Adam Falk, Whitman!” Utterances such as these can only mean one thing: Frosh Revue is back.
The annual sketch comedy (and song and dance) show lampooning all aspects of the College ran in the Adams Memorial Theater for five performances this past weekend. Starring ten exuberant first-years, the production, entitled Afrosh the Universe, was directed by CJ Higgins ’14, Julia Juster ’14, Frank Pagliaro ’14 and Lizzie Stern ’14.
Like the many subjects of its satire – ferocious Frosh Quad squirrels, fried green beans and the profound words of Rick Spalding were just a few in this year’s iteration – Frosh Revue is a peculiar annual institution of the College. The show featured several skits, most of which used the premise of a well-known movie or TV show as a platform to satirize any and all aspects of the College. In addition, the show included four pop songs, each with lyrics rewritten to focus on a theme of the first-year experience, such as entry life and the “freshman 15.” These were performed karaoke-style, complete with intricate choreography from the ensemble. From the “frosh uniform” – jeans and bright, single-color shirts – to the relentless succession of puns involving “Eph” and the names of campus buildings, many of the show’s elements have become Frosh Revue staples. Even considering the inevitable overlap with previous years’ performances, this year’s production shone as an affectionate, intelligent – and often hilarious – commentary on life at the College, thanks to its abundance of memorable performances, smartly written skits and the chemistry between its cast members.
After a brief introduction by “the directors,” who quoted Taio Cruz in promising a “dy-na-mite” show, Afrosh the Universe kicked off with its first and strongest skit. Echoing the film Legally Blonde, the skit followed Elle “Wood,” played by the outstanding Clyde Engle ’15, as she ventured to the College in pursuit of her boyfriend Whitman, played by Tatum Barnes ’15. The skit followed Elle from her review by the admissions committee to her arrival on campus and eventual acceptance as a WOOLF leader. Along the way, she meets a well-meaning hairdresser (played in a memorable turn by Sallie Lau ’15), who urges her, “You’ve got to grab life by the udders and go! …Grab and go!” The skit stood out for its seamless adaptation of this classic premise to resemble life at the College for example, while the class “Seriously Serious Women in the 20th Century” riffed on Elle’s determination to become a “seriously intellectual woman,” it didn’t seem too far from an actual tutorial. The skit also boasted a convincing evocation of Williams-speak, including references to entry snacks and “a mixer in Willy basement.”
While the college setting of “Legally Blonde” made for a natural translation to the Purple Bubble, other skits capitalized on the College as a setting. One sketch cleverly transplanted the “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch from Saturday Night Live into The Log and included an appearance by Barnes as Student Centers Coordinator and Thursday Night Trivia host Schuyler Hall. Starring Andree Heller ’15 as a student who unwittingly stumbles onto “Williams Celebrity Jeopardy,” the skit also featured Emma Pingree-Cannon ’15 as the lovelorn girlfriend of Ephraim Williams and Joshua Torres ’15 who, as Lord Jeff Connery, brilliantly echoed the wise-cracking, outrageously dirty-minded Sean Connery of the SNL original.
Other sketches turned the focus from the campus scene to the student experience. One skit poignantly transplanted the Toy Story gang of Woody, Buzz and Jesse – played by Johnny Gonzalez ’15, Joseph Baca ’15 and Neo Mokgwathi ’15, respectively – to First Days, when they witness their owner Andy bond with his Where Am I? group and settle into the community.
Though the College bore the brunt of the satire, no Frosh Revue production would be complete without a healthy dose of Amherst jokes. Accordingly, one sketch involved a “second-best convention,” in which two Amherst students (Baca and Pingree-Cannon) encountered two representatives of the convention, played by Jenny Helinek ’15 and Engle, who appear desperate for attendees. The Amherst students eventually concede the superiority of Williams and its three dining halls, but not before a reminder from Buzz Aldrin (Torres), “the second man on the moon”: “Without second, there can be no first.”
In addition to the laughs served up in the skits, the songs evoked a wide range of first-year experiences, from entry rituals such as broomball and “highs and lows” to battling “the freshmen 15.” In a rewrite of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” the ensemble marveled over the individual accomplishments and varied personalities of their class, before asking, “What does it mean to be a frosh?” They hinted at an answer in the Goodrich-themed “First Friday Night,” a rewrite of Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night.” As a cheesy-sounding sax soloed on the backing track, the ensemble paraded around the stage, “soloing” on party blowers. Moments such as these that found the cast enjoying themselves as much as they were performing, were among the highlights of the show, and served as a reminder that such moments of spontaneity and fun are what define an Ephs freshman year at the College.