Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

For no reason at all I'm up crazy late this evening. I had an a cappella group rehearsal earlier, and we were talking about our spring concert -- traditionally we've chosen a charity to donate the relatively modest profits to. I got a mixed reaction to my suggestion we choose the National Association for the Deaf. Ponder that for a bit.

This evening, I went to see the Harvard Hasty Pudding show, "As The Word Turns." Hasty Pudding is an undergraduate theater group at Harvard, now in its 156th year, that puts on an annual musical comedy written and performed by students, with lots of professional support in terms of director, set designer, costumes, choreographer, etc -- so production values are really quite tremendous. It's all guys on stage, some playing female characters, and all dressing up for a kickline at the end -- I'm a little surprised they haven't had to go co-ed yet, but that's not really the point of my post.

I was in a similar group at Princeton called the Triangle Club -- Triangle has the all-male kickline as well, and the basic gist is the same -- student written and performed musical comedy with some professional support in terms of director and choreographer. We were co-ed, incidentally. And the genres are different. Hasty Pudding follows a fairly consistent formula -- it's very pun-driven humor, a relatively simple plot, colorful costumes, very polished performances, an easy-to-follow book show, with lots of light laughs but it's not really trading in topical humor or high-concept. It works very, very well for what it is -- it's a formula, and this year's show could have been performed 25 years ago and the audience wouldn't feel like it was out of place, but they played the formula very well. Triangle tends to play more with sketches and songs that don't necessarily fall together into a book show, more with topical humor, college humor, toilet humor... more failure and less polish, but with that comes the potential for some more gems and more real super-satisfying moments -- I admit I'm more than biased. But I have to admit that Hasty Pudding's on-stage acting, singing, and dancing was fantastic, extremely polished, their band was great, the costumes and sets were awesome, the lighting and sound very very solid -- I don't think Triangle necessarily comes up to their level in production value and in actual performance quality. And the writing was solid -- it was well-executed to their formula -- well-crafted stuff, the music didn't stick with me as much as I wish it might have but I liked it, especially the ballads (I like ballads), and the rhymes were sometimes predictable but at no point forced or tortured -- again, though, I blame the style and formula for any shortcomings more than the writers. And the formula works, so maybe I ought not blame anyone. So overall I was entertained, but not blown away -- and felt some nostalgia for my undergrad experience in Triangle (as I often do).

No one really wanted to read that much about the Hasty Pudding show, I'm sure. But there you have it. Recommended, absolutely -- they perform through March 21st, student tickets $15.