By Martin Thibodeau
“Are you telling me Wharton is, like, high school…full of jocks, nerds and the ‘blonde brigade’?” asks a wide-eyed first-year student on her way to uncovering the hidden world behind Wharton Follies 2005, entitled “Fast Times at Huntsman High.”
Through songs, skits and flashbacks to the ‘80s, anxious first-years and perky undergrads learn to kick back and enjoy the ride through school with a laid-back attitude characterized by professor of statistics Robert Stine, alias “Spicoli,” playing the surfer dude with a very relaxed approach to life. To Spicoli’s chagrin, the uptight “Mr. Hand,” otherwise known as professor of statistics Ed George, tries ceaselessly to rain on his party, particularly when a pizza delivery arrives during the middle of class.
This year’s performance cleverly interspersed brief video comedy spots between set changes. One particularly topical subject, “BraveHark,” featured Dean Patrick Harker spoofing the movie with an attempt to wrest control of school rankings from the business magazines. Another video had alumnus Jon Huntsman stopping students on campus and asking them for directions to Huntsman Hall, with mixed results.
“This is the 29th year of Follies, which has enjoyed tremendous success by poking fun at nearly everyone we know, from the Dean to the Donald. In fact, we got so good at selling worthless entertainment to our classmates that several other business schools have decided to imitate us,” says Aileen Tang, WG’05, one of the three Follies producers to introduce the show. So good in fact that, with the collective efforts of 150 volunteers, the Philadelphia and New York shows played to a record audience of 2,300.
“I was particularly impressed by the amount of faculty involvement in the show. I wouldn’t normally expect a PhD statistics professor to play a surfer hooking up with the undergrad ladies,” said Joseph Spector, a Welcome Weekend visitor from California. “Overall, the Follies was the highlight of my visit, and I look forward to seeing more shows as a student and an alum.”
Photos by Jerry Millevoi