Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
September 25, 2022

Student theater groups win huge laughs in the Theater O-Show

By HELENA GIFFORD | September 10, 2022

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COURTESY OF HELENA GIFFORD

This year’s Theater O-Show featured performances from groups like the Barnstormers and the Buttered Niblets.

Every year, the University’s performing arts groups sing, dance and act on stage to show off their skills and entice students to join their ranks. The 2022 Theater O-Show, which took place in Arellano Theater on Sept. 3, won the hearts of many in the crowd.

When I entered the theater, the entire room was packed, but I thankfully managed to find an empty seat near the back. The room was loud with chatter, and everyone was excited to be there.

Then the lights dimmed, and the show began.

Each performance began with a short introduction from a member of each theater group, explaining who they were and what they would perform.

The first performance of the night was from the Dunbar Baldwin Hughes Theater Company, a theater group with an emphasis on African and African American-centered performances. They performed a short comedic sketch called “The Hairpiece.” In the sketch, a woman gets ready to go out and break up with her boyfriend while her two wig stands bicker over who would be worn on the date.

Though simple, the staging and physical acting of the sketch were great. The actresses who played the wig stands were so convincing that, at first, I thought they were real wig stands. When they opened their eyes and started to talk, I nearly jumped out of my seat.

And they were hilarious! The audience roared with laughter at all the right moments. I was endlessly impressed that the actress playing the woman was able to keep a straight face throughout the whole sketch. The wig stands had a great flow and energy, carrying out a conversation so naturally that I felt like I was eavesdropping on a real argument.

The next performance was from Witness Theater, a group with entirely student-run and student-written productions. 

They performed a comedic sketch called “Take the Cake”. The skit focused on two exes meeting at the dining hall and fighting over a slice of cake as the guy tried to win the girl back. Over the course of the argument, it was revealed that they had broken up because the boy’s dislike of chocolate was a red flag.

This sketch also received lots of laughter from the crowd, perhaps due to the fact that the premise and jokes were all specific to the Hopkins student experience. They ranged from trying to avoid your ex in the dining hall to employing your Psychology-major roommate as a personal therapist.

The third performance was by the Buttered Niblets, the student improv group at Hopkins. They began their show by asking the audience to throw out some potential names for a soap opera. A lone brave soul called out “Augmented Reality is Cool!” and the show began.

The actors immediately came up with an entire sketch on the spot, involving an arguing couple and their son. The sketch was hilarious and surprising in all the best ways. An instant soap opera, complete with attempted murder, divorce and a mother being replaced by an augmented reality robot mom — it was everything I wanted.

They then did another exercise involving a “four corners” type game. It was a rotating carousel of mini skits based on audience-suggested prompts, such as “Science!”, “Never Gonna Give You Up!” and “Costco!”. The skits were short, hysterical and unhinged in the best possible ways. The fact that they were able to come up with their skits all on the spot in front of a packed theater of people was extremely brave and impressive.

The final performance of the night was given by the Barnstormers, the largest and oldest theater group on campus. They performed a sketch about a couple having a conversation while waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland. The couple argued about their relationship for most of the sketch, punctuated by reprimands to their off-stage deranged children, before coming to a strangely wholesome agreement that they hated each other. This closing sketch contained the most serious moments of all the performances in the show but still carried enough jokes to make the crowd erupt in laughter again and again.

Coincidentally, each of the night’s performances involved arguments and relationship issues in some way. Are y’all alright?

Jokes aside, every performance that night was seamless, hilarious and brilliantly executed.

After the show, a sizable portion of the crowd surged into the Glass Pavilion to participate in the tabling event and sign up for groups. As someone who’s always been vaguely terrified by theater kids and the idea of being watched, even I felt a stirring desire to join one of the groups and have my moment in the spotlight.

The Theater O-Show was hugely entertaining. Even if you don’t think you’ll be interested in theater, I highly recommend attending future O-Shows just to be exposed to the incredible talent and diversity that we have on campus. 

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