By Michelle Eberhart (USMA West Point, Public Affairs)February 11, 2016
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 11, 2016) -- The 100th Night celebration is an exciting tradition for The United States Military at West Point Cadets. With only 100 nights left until the Class of 2016 graduation and commissioning, Cadets celebrate by preparing a show for Feb.11 and 13, that pokes fun at the inside jokes and mishaps they've faced over their four years
Among switching directors, losing cast members and getting acquainted with federal copyright laws, the cast and crew of 100th Night haven't gotten off to the easiest start. Luckily, they guarantee you'll have a great time watching their finished product
"I know some people in my class have even got 100 sticky notes on the back of their doors so every day they're going to take another one off," writer David Oliver said. "The 100th Night show is kind of a big summation of everything that's happened to our class, a lot of in-jokes and a lot of poking fun at the West Point-isms that go on."
This year's title, "I think, Therefore AM I," even plays on the West Point-ism of AM Inspections. Aside from West Point jokes, the crew can assure you that you have never seen anything like this specific performance, particularly the original music from the West Point Band.
But that wasn't necessarily by design. "In recent years, federal copyright laws have changed," director Alissah McGill said. "We're no longer allowed to use songs that are fair use for parody, we'd have to talk to them, get rights to perform it … it was a whole mess."
Cadet-in-Charge Christopher Zeigler knew that getting the rights to every song would create problems. After spending time emailing four to five publishers per song, he decided it was best to take a better route.
Zeigler sent the lyrics to the band and asked them to create "sound-alike" songs, songs that were originally written as parodies and were eventually turned into original ensembles. "I felt bad because I didn't give them a lot of time," Zeigler said. "They really came through and got us some really good sounding songs."
McGill agreed. "Some of them are recognizable, some of them might sound completely different," McGill said of the original tracks. "I'm really proud of how they came out, I'm really grateful to the band for all the hard work they put in for making these sound-alikes and putting together these ensembles."
Not to mention that McGill had to step in after the original director had gotten injured during summer training and didn't think he'd have the time to fulfill his role. "We really kind of had to pull this together," McGill said. "I was brought into the game very late by comparison to previous years."
Luckily, she has been able to pick up the pieces and mold the play into one cohesive production.
In addition to the musical mishaps and director drama, some cast members have had to drop out due to time constraints, forcing the rest of the cast and crew to work double time. "Everybody's put in a lot of long hours," McGill said.
Regardless of the obstacles, however, the crew realized that the show must go on. "This is something we can look back on and be proud of," Zeigler said. "It will never happen again, it's not going to be filmed so there will be no record of it other than your memory of it when you were here."
Not to mention, Zeigler promises that they'll be pushing the boundaries more often than not. "We want everybody to be surprised by how funny it is, but not offended. Well not too much," Zeigler joked.
The plot is loosely based off of "The Wizard of Oz" with Cadets Dorothy, Crow, Tin and Lion acting as the main characters. Interestingly enough, the "Wicked Witch" changes characters throughout the course of the play from particular TAC's, or RTO's or stereotyped Academy antagonists.
You will also see bits about the BTO, some mosh pit scenes and a creative ending that Zeigler says, "Really puts the icing on the cake of this whole experience." Most importantly, though, is what the event symbolizes, 100 nights until the Class of 2016 Graduation.
"I Think, Therefore AM I," will be performed for the underclassmen at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 and the Firstie (senior) performance is at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 following the banquet. Both performances are at Eisenhower Hall.