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. After the Free Show, interested freshmen are invited to a schmoozer with Clubbies at the Mask and Wig clubroom. The auditions generally take place in the days 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.
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, members of the company 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 of 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 which also gives the show its title and comes to life in 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 writers assemble a completely original script just a few weeks before the show is performed. The Band selects and arranges all the music. The Crew designs and builds the set, as well as all of the show’s other technical elements. And, the Business Staff ensures that the show is financed, marketed, and attended. 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||1988: Pippin||2004: Waiting for Gutmann|
|1972: You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Blue Suede Shoe||1989: Sex, Lies, and Masking Tape||2005: Hogan’s Gyros|
|1973: Don’t Throw Money||1990: Saddam and Gomorrah||2006: Singin’ in Bahrain|
|1974: Holding the Bag||1991: Male Chauvinist Wig||2007: Phallus in Wonderland|
|1975: [Sic] Humor||1992: Debauchery, Debacle and Decandlestickmaker||2008: Oil Vey!|
|1976: FurKing in the Jungle||1993: Ah Brutus, You Kill Me||2009: Conquistadora the Explorer|
|1977: All You Can Eat||1994: Carpe Stouffer||2010: Ra and UnTut|
|1978: Parodies Lost||1995: Freudian Slip||2011: Mario Brothers, Where Art Thou|
|1979: Fill ‘er Up||1996: Something To Do Before You Get Mugged||2012: Tights, Camera, Action!|
|1981: Ring Job||1997: What Willis Was Talking About||2013: A State of Confucian|
|1982: Beau Jest||1998: Bidets of Thunder||2014: An Eye for an Island|
|1983: No Eggrolls For Me Thank You I’ve Just Been Vaccinated||1999: The End of the World As We Wrote It||2015: No Country for Old Penn|
|1984: Shooting Stars||2000: You are the Wind Beneath My Fingers, Wings and Other Things||2016: Magic Mike and Ike|
|1985: Eat Wit and Die||2001: Win Ben Stein’s Wife and Kids||2017: I Am What I Amazon|
|1986: What a Drag||2002: Less Miserable||2018: Apollo 13 Going on 30|
|1987: Your Mother||2003: Donkey Donuts|
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 Undergraduate writers come together to write the book, while production leans on the combined efforts of the full club and theater professionals for production, direction, choreography, scenic design, and costuming. 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||1933: Out of the Blues||1977: S!R!O!|
|1890: Ben Franklin, Jr.||1934: Easy Pickens||1978: Pow! Zowie! Zap!|
|1891: Miss Columbia||1935: Drums Fortissimo||1979: You Bet Your Assets|
|1892: Mr. and Mrs. Cleopatra||1936: Red Rhumba||1980: Daze a Vu|
|1893: The Yankee League||1936: This Mad Whirl||1981: Hire and Higher|
|1894: King Arthur||1937: Fifty-Fifty||1981: Between the Covers|
|1895: Kenilworth||1938: All Around the Town||1983: You Gotta Have Art|
|1896: No Gentleman of France||1939: Great Guns||1984: Urban and Soda|
|1897: Very Little Red Riding Hood||1940: High as a Kite||1985: Irreverence of Things Past|
|1898: The House That Jack Built||1941: Out of this World||1986: Happily Ever Laughter|
|1899: Captain Kidd, U.S.N.||1942: Paoli Local||1987: Eureka!? I Hardly Know Ya!|
|1900: Mr. Aguinaldo of Manila||1944: Red Points and Blue||1988: Lurline, Again!|
|1901: Baa, Baa, Black Sheep||1945: Hep to the Beat||1989: Pun & Crime-ishment|
|1902: Old King Cole||1946: John Paul Jones||1990: Healthy, Wealthy, and Wry|
|1903: Sir Robinson Crusoe||1946: Chris Crosses||1991: Around the World in a Daze|
|1904: Alice in Anotherland||1947: Juleo and Romiet||1992: Myth America|
|1905: Mr. Hamlet of Denmark||1948: Alaska Right Away||1993: Westward Who?|
|1906: Shylock & Co., Bankers||1949: Adamant Eve||1994: A Sworded Affair|
|1907: Herr Lohengrin||1950: Count Me In!||1995: Thugs and Kisses|
|1908: Uncle Sam’s Ditch||1951: Doctor, Dear Doctor!||1996: Hit or Mrs.|
|1909: Merely a Monarch||1952: Here’s Howe!||1997: Mystery Repeats Itself|
|1910: The Desert of Mahomet||1953: The Golden Fleece||1998: Blasphemy? Blasphe-you!|
|1911: Innocents||1954: Tempest in a Teapot||1999: From Here to Maturity|
|1912: Miss Helen of Troy||1955: Vamp ‘Till Ready||2000: History in the Faking|
|1913: Maid in Germany||1956: Ring Around Rosie||2001: All’s Fair in Love and Dwarfs|
|1914: The Royal Arms||1957: Free For All?||2002: Star-Spangled Banter|
|1915: Paradise Prison||1958: Off the Top||2003: Riot on the Set|
|1916: Whoa-Phoebe!||1959: Wright Side Up||2004: All’s Hell That Ends Well|
|1917: Mr. Rip Van Winkle||1961: Wry on the Rocks||2005: Birth of a Notion|
|1918: The Bridal Not||1962: All at Sea||2006: Not Just Another Divine Comedy|
|1919: Revue of Revues||1963: Where Do We Go From Here?||2007: Troy Story|
|1920: Don Quixote, Esq||1964: Sorry, Charlie, Your Time is Up||2008: West Wing Story|
|1921: Somebody’s Lion||1965: Listen, They’re Playing Our Song||2009: Oh, the Humanities!|
|1922: Tell Tales||1966: About Farce||2010: A Cheshire Catastrophe|
|1923: Here’s Howe||1967: Quick, Before It’s Written||2011: A Volcanic Corruption|
|1924: That’s That||1968: All’s Fair||2012: A Reptile Dysfunction|
|1925: Joan of Arkansas||1969: The Devil to Pay||2013: Beautopia: A Face Odyssey|
|1926: A Sale and A Sailor||1970: Wrought Irony||2014: Wishful Sinking|
|1927: Hoot Mon!||1971: Who’s Whom||2015: A Comedy of Terrors|
|1928: Tarantella||1972: Now Listen Hear||2016: Flight Club|
|1929: This Way Out!||1973: Take Ten||2017: No Place Like Rome|
|1930: John Faust, Ph.D.||1974: Film Flam||2018: Juice Box Hero|
|1931: East Lynne Gone West||1975: Mystery Loves Company||2019: The Book of Mermen|
|1932: Ruff Neck||1976: Is It Yesterday Already?|
Floor Shows and Band Performances
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 A Very Quaker Holiday at Carnegie Hall, 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.
Outside of playing as our pit orchestra and interlude musicians for our productions, the Band performs around campus and beyond. The Band regularly performs a rotating setlist of cover songs in a variety of styles for formals, parties, and other gatherings. The Mask and Wig Band is annually featured at University events including Spring Fling and the NSO Museum Toga Party. Each year they headline the student stage during Spring Fling performing an hour-long set of covers of popular music with members of the Cast and female vocalists from other Penn performing arts groups. In 2018 and 2014 the Band was the winner of the Blutt Band Slam.