By Maddie Orton
Just for some perspective, when Princeton University’s Triangle Show first debuted, Benjamin Harrison was president and the microphone had just been invented. The Tiger tradition is now in its 125th year of bringing original musical comedy to the stage.
“In the history of even musical theater in America — that’s a spectacular achievement having existed for so long — and I think it’s amazing we’ve kept that purpose,” said club president Hillel Friedman. “We really care about the creation of original musical comedy.”
The show is student-written, composed, performed and run. It follows a new theme each year and pokes fun at everything from politics and history to the university itself.
This year’s show is set in Ancient Greece — it’s called “Greece’d Lightning.” It takes about nine months to develop the project from writers’ room pitch to full-fledged production.
“And I think for every one sketch that’s in this show,” Friedman said, “there are probably 12 to 15 sketches that are not in the show.”
Claire Ashmead and Allison Light are the Triangle Club’s head writers.
“We actually were editing right up until last night, actually, finishing up some sketches,” shared Ashmead.
“They may still ask us to change something after tonight,” added Light. “Anything’s possible.”
Carrying the Triangle torch is a big deal. The club boasts alumni like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jimmy Stewart and Brooke Shields. Elements like the traditional kickline performed by male cast members in drag need to be done differently now than a century ago.
“We’re very keen on making sure it’s empowering, and funny, and keeping with tradition,” Light said.
Making these challenges easier, though, is a budget that would leave other college theater clubs drooling, as well as use of the world-class McCarter Theatre stage and advisors with Broadway credits.
“It’s crazy. It’s an amazing thing to set pen to paper, and then in a number of months to see it actually staged for an audience in the most elaborate way,” said Friedman. “Just as a matter of learning, I don’t think there has ever been an experience in my life where I’ve learned how to lead as much, and work with people and see the realization of such an enormous project.”
“It’s a huge responsibility, but also it’s incredibly exhilarating,” said Ashmead. “I think that we’ve done the 125th. I think we’ve done a good job!”
The Triangle Club’s Greece’d Lightning is at McCarter Theatre through the weekend. The show will also go on a brief national tour in January.