The Freshman Free Show is Mask and Wig’s first production of the academic year. As the name indicates, the Free Show is free for all new freshmen. As the first production of the year, the Free Show serves three purposes: to introduce the club to the new freshmen, create a lasting relationship with those in attendance, and to generate interest in the Club’s auditions. The auditions generally take place the day after the Free Show.
For the past several years, the Free Show has been performed in the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ Zellerbach Auditorium, which seats approximately 1,000 patrons. The Free Show contains bits that are “tried and true,” some of the most loved and classic bits Mask and Wig has to offer. The band also arranges a number of fillers, played between the bits, which are often popular songs from pre-college years. After the Free Show, interested freshmen are invited to a schmoozer with Clubbies at the Mask and Wig clubroom.
Whereas Mask and Wig is primarily known for its Annual Production in the spring, few people are aware that in 1936 the Annual Production took place in the fall. When the Annual Production eventually shifted back to the spring, Wiggers felt that something was missing. As a result, undergraduates have felt compelled to produce a half week of shows in the early fall, cleverly dubbed Fall Show.
Although Fall Show prepares its newer members for the Annual Production, it is a different animal completely. The show takes place on campus at the Iron Gate Theatre as opposed to the Clubhouse. Instead of a full-length musical comedy, the Fall Show consists of a variety of SNL-style bits that are independent from one another with the exception of the opening bit and the Second Act Opener (SAO). The SAO is a fully student-produced miniature show-within-a-show, with its own plot and adapted musical covers with choreography. The opening bit and SAO are tied together through a theme that lends its title to the show and is the inspiration for the set on which all of the bits are performed. In between bits, the Band plays covers of popular songs that are always a hit with the audience. The first Fall Show was in 1970 and titled No, But I Read the Cliffnotes.
Fall Show is entirely student-run. The cast writes a completely original script just a few weeks before the show is performed. The Band arranges all the music itself, and the Crew builds the set itself, as well. Every year after the late show on Saturday is complete, well over a thousand people have laughed, and The Mask and Wig Club has once again fulfilled its credo: “Justice to the stage; credit to the University.”
See a List of All of Our Fall Productions
|1970: No… But I Read the Cliffnotes||1987: Your Mother||2002: Less Miserable|
|1972: You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blue Suede Shoe||1988: Pippin||2003: Donkey Donuts|
|1973: Don’t Throw Money||1989: Sex, Lies, and Masking Tape||2004: Waiting for Gutmann|
|1974: Holding the Bag||1990: Saddam and Gomorrah||2005: Hogan’s Gyros|
|1975: [Sic] Humor||1991: Male Chauvinist Wig||2006: Singin’ in Bahrain|
|1976: FurKing in the Jungle||1992: Debauchery, Debacle and Decandlestickmaker||2007: Phallus in Wonderland|
|1977: All You Can Eat||1993: Ah Brutus, You Kill Me||2008: Oil Vey!|
|1978: Parodies Lost||1994: Carpe Stouffer||2009: Conquistadora the Explorer|
|1979: Fill ‘er Up||1995: Freudian Slip||2010: Ra and UnTut|
|1981: Ring Job||1996: Something To Do Before You Get Mugged||2011: Mario Brothers, Where Art Thou|
|1982: Beau Jest||1997: What Willis Was Talking About||2012: Tights, Camera, Action!|
|1983: No Eggrolls For Me Thank You I’ve Just Been Vaccinated||1998: Bidets of Thunder||2013: A State of Confucian|
|1984: Shooting Stars||1999: The End of the World As We Wrote It||2014: An Eye for an Island|
|1985: Eat Wit and Die||2000: You are the Wind Beneath My Fingers, Wings and Other Things||2015: No Country for Old Penn|
|1986: What a Drag||2001: Win Ben Stein’s Wife and Kids|
The annual production is a full-length musical comedy written and performed by the undergraduate Club and is the primary theatrical endeavor of Mask and Wig during the year. The first annual production, Lurline or The Knight and the Naiads, was performed to critical acclaim at the Chestnut Street Opera House on June 4th, 1889. In the early days, the annual productions were satires of literary classics, Lurline being based off of Henry Byron’s The Nymphs of the Lurleyburg. The club enjoyed early success, which allowed the institution of an annual tour in 1891.
Originally, the company traveled by train car from destination to destination. Although the train car is no longer used, the annual tour continues. During tour, the undergraduates perform the annual production across the world; previous tour destinations have included Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and London. Tour has continued to evolve and is now a vital way for undergraduates to spread the annual production to a wider audience.
The annual production takes place every year from January through April, but production is a yearlong process. Before the current production even finishes, the Club is already hard at work on the next one. Writing for an annual production starts in March and continues all the way through until December. Between the writing, production, rehearsing, and directing, each annual production is the product of thousands of man-hours from the undergraduates and graduates together.
See a List of All of Our Annual Productions
|1889: Lurline||1932: Ruff Neck||1975: Mystery Loves Company|
|1890: Ben Franklin, Jr.||1933: Out of the Blues||1976: Is It Yesterday Already?|
|1891: Miss Columbia||1934: Easy Pickens||1977: S!R!O!|
|1892: Mr. and Mrs. Cleopatra||1935: Drums Fortissimo||1978: Pow! Zowie! Zap!|
|1893: The Yankee League||1936: Red Rhumba||1979: You Bet Your Assets|
|1894: King Arthur||1936: This Mad Whirl||1980: Daze a Vu|
|1895: Kenilworth||1937: Fifty-Fifty||1981: Hire and Higher|
|1896: No Gentleman of France||1938: All Around the Town||1981: Between the Covers|
|1897: Very Little Red Riding Hood||1939: Great Guns||1983: You Gotta Have Art|
|1898: The House That Jack Built||1940: High as a Kite||1984: Urban and Soda|
|1899: Captain Kidd, U.S.N.||1941: Out of this World||1985: Irreverence of Things Past|
|1900: Mr. Aguinaldo of Manila||1942: Paoli Local||1986: Happily Ever Laughter|
|1901: Baa, Baa, Black Sheep||1944: Red Points and Blue||1987: Eureka!? I Hardly Know Ya!|
|1902: Old King Cole||1945: Hep to the Beat||1988: Lurline, Again!|
|1903: Sir Robinson Crusoe||1946: John Paul Jones||1989: Pun & Crime-ishment|
|1904: Alice in Anotherland||1946: Chris Crosses||1990: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wry|
|1905: Mr. Hamlet of Denmark||1947: Juleo and Romiet||1991: Around the World in a Daze|
|1906: Shylock & Co., Bankers||1948: Alaska Right Away||1992: Myth America|
|1907: Herr Lohengrin||1949: Adamant Eve||1993: Westward Who?|
|1908: Uncle Sam’s Ditch||1950: Count Me In!||1994: A Sworded Affair|
|1909: Merely a Monarch||1951: Doctor, Dear Doctor!||1995: Thugs and Kisses|
|1910: The Desert of Mahomet||1952: Here’s Howe!||1996: Hit or Mrs.|
|1911: Innocents||1953: The Golden Fleece||1997: Mystery Repeats Itself|
|1912: Miss Helen of Troy||1954: Tempest in a Teapot||1998: Blasphemy? Blasphe-you!|
|1913: Maid in Germany||1955: Vamp ‘Till Ready||1999: From Here to Maturity|
|1914: The Royal Arms||1956: Ring Around Rosie||2000: History in the Faking|
|1915: Paradise Prison||1957: Free For All?||2001: All’s Fair in Love and Dwarfs|
|1916: Whoa Phoebe!||1958: Off the Top||2002: Star-Spangled Banter|
|1917: Mr. Rip Van Winkle||1959: Wright Side Up||2003: Riot on the Set|
|1918: The Bridal Not||1961: Wry on the Rocks||2004: All’s Hell That Ends Well|
|1919: Revue or Revues||1962: All at Sea||2005: Birth of a Notion|
|1920: Don Quixote, Esq||1963: Where Do We Go From Here?||2006: Not Just Another Divine Comedy|
|1921: Somebody’s Lion||1964: Sorry, Charlie, Your Time is Up||2007: Troy Story|
|1922: Tell Tales||1965: Listen, They’re Playing Our Song||2008: West Wing Story|
|1923: Here’s Howe||1966: About Farce||2009: Oh, the Humanities!|
|1924: That’s That||1967: Quick, Before It’s Written||2010: A Cheshire Catastrophe|
|1925: Joan of Arkansas||1968: All’s Fair||2011: A Volcanic Corruption|
|1926: A Sale and A Sailor||1969: The Devil to Pay||2012: A Reptile Dysfunction|
|1927: Hoot Mon!||1970: Wrought Irony||2013: Beautopia: A Face Odyssey|
|1928: Tarantella||1971: Who’s Whom||2014: Wishful Sinking|
|1929: This Way Out!||1972: Now Listen Hear||2015: A Comedy of Terrors|
|1930: John Faust, Ph.D.||1973: Take Ten||2016: Flight Club|
|1931: East Lynne Gone West||1974: Film Flam|
Besides the customary Fall and Spring productions, The Mask and Wig Club performs “Floor Shows” for special events, corporate affairs, dinner functions, alumni events, and high school audiences. A floor show consists of several sketches or songs, usually described as “the best of The Mask and Wig Club.” We draw from our large repertoire of bits and musical sketches in order to cater to all ages and tastes. Our attire is as versatile as our material, ranging from jeans to tuxedo. Musical accompaniment ranges from one piano to our Band upon request.
Significant recent performances and clients include the dedication of Riepe College House at Penn, Penn President Amy Gutmann, the 200th Anniversary of Penn’s Engineering School, Penn President Judith Rodin’s inauguration, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Christie’s Auction House of New York, Penn Previews Days for incoming freshmen, The Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, Penn Hillel in New York, Penn Alumni Weekend, and benefits for The Vagina Monologues and the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children.