Cadets lampoon themselves in 100th Night Show
February 22, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 22, 2012) -- West Point cadets have a knack for finding plenty to parody in the course of their 47-month experience here, and the annual 100th Night performance is a showcase of their self-satire.
This year's 100th Night Show riffs on "The Twilight Zone" theme, illustrating the academy as a strange and unusual environment for outsiders, but where being graded on folding clothes into Jell-O shaped cubes is the norm for its occupants.
"The story is meant to chronicle our journey through West Point," Class of 2012 Cadet Sam Wharton, show director, said. "It highlights our different experiences at events like Beast, Branch Night and Post Night, as well as hitting on some of the major departments like DPE (Department of Physical Education) and some notable officers."
The 100th Night Show is essentially a play staged and acted by firsties for their class, though in recent years it has been made more community-friendly. Often filled with inside jokes, the performance is such that even outsiders will be entertained.
"There's still a lot of inside jokes that are class-oriented," Wharton said. "But overall, if you know West Point then most people will find it extremely funny."
The show features several musical numbers, drawing comedic inspiration from "South Park," "Monty Python" and even "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The plot follows several main characters from R-Day to graduation who represent stereotypical cadet personalities and composites of Class of 2012 cadets.
Class of 2012 Cadet Shige Clark said she's nothing like the character she plays in the show--Kelly Cavalier, the average Corps squad cadet always dressed in West Point sweats and exuding arrogant swagger.
"I've never been on a Corps or even a Club squad team. My character is a total shammer and very crass, which I've had trouble getting comfortable with," Clark said. "But it has been a lot of fun getting to play a character who is nothing like me and getting a chance to act it out."
Four summers ago she performed "On My Own" from the musical "Les Miserables" during a talent show at the end of Cadet Basic Training. It seems fitting Clark ends her cadet career back in the spotlight, entertaining her classmates once again.
"That's where I met (Class of 2012 Cadet) Kelley Duke, and we laugh a lot that we did that talent show together and now we're both in the 100th Night Show," Clark said.
Duke may be singing Disney and Monty Python tunes this week, but it was nearly a year ago when she was performing Tammy Wynette and Lady Gaga numbers during a mash-up of Shakespeare plays for Projects Day.
"It's really a challenge to find opportunities to sing and act here, but every time I've had the chance it's turned out to be a thoroughly rewarding experience," Duke said.
Duke is credited with coming up with the 100th Night Show's CLDT song--to the music of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream"--while actually conducting Cadet Leader Development Training.
"We spent a lot of hours staring into blackness with our helmets propped up on our M4s," Duke said. "Making fun of the situation by putting a tune to it has helped me stay awake through moments like that since Beast. My squad and platoon-mates helped me find some good rhymes when I got stuck too, and, once I finished the song, I sang it for the whole company, so it sort of became a weird bonding thing."
Each cast member seems to have a favorite scene or song from the 100th Night Show, and the tunes are memorable enough to reverberate long after the performances end.
Clark is partial to the DPE scene, where the cast gets a full workout while singing the praises of their physical education.
Class of 2012 Cadet Tanya McCorkle, musical director, is a fan of the CLDT song.
"CLDT is an experience that cadets either love or hate, and this is a song that parodies it so well," McCorkle said.
McCorkle not only choreographed the show, she also had a hand in writing scenes when the original script team assembled more than a year ago. Though the script received approval from their chain of command last semester, they were still writing on the fly as events transpired. Wharton said the cast and crew has logged hundreds of hours into this show.
"The amount of effort that has gone into this show has been absolutely monumental," Wharton said. "The sheer effort and talent from everybody involved has been amazing."
Rehearsals, at a minimum, were conducted three nights a week for two hours since the semester's start. Wharton said for every hour the cast committed on stage, the crew put in at least three--a testament to the dedication of everyone involved both on the stage and behind it.
"The show has been great," Duke said. "Some of my closest friends are either in the cast or crew, and we've had a lot of fun making fun of ourselves and everyone else."