Students take over Viking Varieties performance

Maddie Todd


For the second year in a row, Varieties’ direction has undergone significant changes.

The annual homecoming talent show, which was faculty-led and heavily featured both student groups and alumni last year, has been left completely in the students’ hands for 2014.

The show features nine acts performed by students from every grade, including two freshmen emcees who participated in Freshmen Varieties in early September.

Solo musical and comedy acts are slated to perform, in addition to larger groups like New Squids on the Dock and a trombone quartet. Each group chose its own piece this year, whereas directors cast and assigned the performers last year.

“It’s really a chance for them to do what they do best,” junior co-director Monica Gutierrez said. “It actually has variety.”

Junior Shane Farrow, who will perform a stand-up comedy routine, agrees, saying he thinks this year’s show will demonstrate “significantly more passion” than last year’s.

No alumni are involved in this year’s show, although junior co-director Megan Minatra  says it was designed to make alumni feel like they’re “still part of Augustana.”

The two shows on Sept. 27 are geared specifically toward alumni, and current students will have to pay to attend.

Farrow said he shortened his routine by five minutes for these showings.

“I definitely have an age 18-30 sense of humor,” Farrow said.

Apart from dropping alumni involvement, Minatra said this year’s show also received little help from the normally involved departments, after negative feedback of last year’s show caused an “uproar.”

She said students have done everything from scenery to vocal coaching, only receiving help from the theater department with costumes and sound.

With less than a month to prepare between the beginning of school and homecoming, both directors say they feel the stress of this self-production.

“We didn’t know how student-run it was going to be,” Minatra said.

However, Viking Days Committee co-chair Kendra Gerber, a junior, said this is ultimately what the student body wanted to see this year.

“In a way, the students did have a say in this because of the response from Varieties last year,” Gerber said.

According to Gerber, the switch almost made Varieties impossible.  She said they could not initially find someone to “step up to the plate” because no one wanted to commit to directing the entire show by themselves.

“[N]aturally, we got nervous thinking we weren’t going to be able to have the show this year,” Gerber said.

She and her co-chair Emily Koenen, also a junior, delegated the job of finding a director to a separate Viking Varieties committee. This group, which Gerber called the “ears and eyes in the planning,” conducted interviews for and eventually decided on directors who were willing and qualified to take on the project.

Both Minatra and Gutierrez have theater backgrounds, and Gutierrez hopes to be an event planner someday.

Though there is not an official theme for the show, Minatra says it aims to remind the audience that “everyone is a star in their own right.”

Tickets are available now for all four of the performances held in Kresge Recital Hall.