By Nate Stauffer, Business Staff ’17
There’s only room for one Penn Class of 2017! During New Student Orientation this year, the Mask and Wig Club organized and hosted a number of tremendously successful events for the incoming freshman class. On Saturday, August 24th, the company sponsored a preceptorial about opportunities to get involved with theater at Penn. More than sixty freshmen were brought down to the Clubhouse to hear about these options from representatives of every Theater Arts Council group on campus. They also heard a short speech delivered by Professor Peter Whinnery. Afterwards, the freshmen were treated to a floor show by members of the Mask and Wig cast before having the chance to mingle and meet with all of the theater representatives present.
Following the preceptorial, the Wig guys deferred no time returning to campus for a late-night comedy event at Platt Performing Arts House. Hosted by Mask and Wig, the comedy show featured a number of classic Wig sketches along with performances from fellow student groups Simply Chaos (stand-up comedy), Without a Net (improvisational comedy) and Bloomers (all-female sketch comedy). More than one hundred freshmen attended the event, making it a rousing success.
Adding to Mask and Wig’s incredible exposure during NSO 2013, the Band performed at the annual Toga Party at the Penn Museum. They performed an hour-long set featuring classics such as “Bad Touch” and “What You Know.” In place of the musicians who graduated last year, other members of the current company filled in. Cast SYG Teddy Lavon jammed on guitar, and Junior Clubbie Alex Ghanem rocked the drums. The event further bolstered Wig’s reputation among the freshmen class and especially helped to introduce instrumentalists to the talent and charisma of the Mask and Wig Band.
Over the week that followed, members of all four sections worked tirelessly to prepare for the first week’s main event: Free Show! On Sunday, September 1, Mask and Wig hosted its annual sketch comedy highlight reel for the freshmen class in Zellerbach Auditorium. For the second year in a row, the show sold out. In fact, hundreds of hopeful attendees who did not pick up tickets in advance had to be turned away at the door. During the two-hour production, the audience was treated to classic Wig bits such as “Trout Tennis” and “The Penn Commandments” as well as newer sketches like “The First Thanksgiving” and “Lunch Stoppers.” In between the cast’s performances, the Mask and Wig band performed short musical covers from a number of popular songs like Passion Pit’s “Take a Walk.” The show could not have gone better. All of the freshmen left raving about the incredible talent and comedy shared on stage.
The buzz generated by Free Show carried over into auditions which saw a spike in the number of hopeful candidates and in the selectivity of each section. At the end of the week, the company inducted an extremely gifted New Guy class. Over the next four years, they, too, will try their best to continue the 125-year-old tradition of bringing Justice to the stage; credit to the University.