Karen and I saw The Harvard/Yale Cantata at 54 Below on 9/13/18. This was the fourth annual show and I’ve been to all four, it’s always a blast. Our friend Tom Toce is the producer - - he was inspired by the Harvard/Yale Regatta, an annual boat race between the two schools. He put together a show where songs written by Harvard grads are squared off against songs by Yale grads, and they’re performed by grads of those schools. They have a panel of three judges, not from either school, who each vote on the stronger song/stronger performance in each “heat.”
A few highlights:
Yale: “Anything Can Happen In the Theater” by Maury Yeston, sung by Mallory Baysek, Nathaniel Dolquist, Nate Janis, and Megan Loughran. The perfect song to open the show. Darling youth x 4!
Harvard: “Night and Day” by Cole Porter, sung by Julia Biedry. She had a novel approach to the song, lots of noodling. I wasn’t convinced. This approach works well for Sarah Vaughan, it didn’t work so well for her.
Harvard: “Hot Time Comin’ “ by Jennie Litt, sung by Litt. A funny song about global warming. My favorite lyric was about how Iceland was going to change its name to Land.
Yale: “Como Te Gusta Mi Pinga?” by Alan Chapman, sung by Chapman. The highlight of the show. He told a cute story about how he wrote it for Jim J. Bullock (!) but he never performed it. It was performed it in a cute little gay rom com called *Trick.* Here it is in that movie, though I have to say I much preferred Chapman’s low key performance:
Harvard: “One More Time” by Joshua Campbell, sung by Michael Wingate. This guy was one of the strongest performers of the night, really knew what he was doing and had the audience in the palm of his hand. He was the second coming of Al Jarreau!
Yale: “Living Proof” by Ezra Doner, sung by Cami Arboles and Ethan Riordan. Maybe I’m being ageist, but they knocked me out simply because they were 19 and 20 years old! So talented, so confident, so earnest!
They closed the show with a song by Tom Toce, “One Love,” sung by the entire company, plus two people we hadn’t seen before (who the hell were they?).
The final score: Harvard 30.5, Yale 32.5. How about a rundown of the scores from all four?
2015: Yale 37, Harvard 25
2016: Yale 32, Harvard 31
2017: Yale/Princeton 32, Harvard/Columbia 31
2018: Yale 32.5, Harvard 30.5
Let’s hope that Harvard has a better year next year…