Varieties brings tradition and music to the Great Hall this weekend

The Next Top Broadway Star: a Battle for the Spotlight practices before the semi-finals this Friday and Saturday night.


Varieties Semi-Finals are Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. Tickets are $6 with a student ID and $10 dollars general admission. 

The Varieties are comprised of 16-20 minute mini-musicals with original choreography and lyrics. Between acts are smaller, talent based acts called Vignettes. 

We sat down with Sally Baker, a co-chair for the musical “Space Jam,” and Carter Mehls, a narrator in “Next Top Broadway Star: A Battle for the Spotlight.”

What organization do you belong to? What is your job with Varieties?

Baker: “For Varieties, I am a co-chair, and next year I will be the director for the 2019 Varieties show. … Co-chairs are in charge of delegating how the show is going to be presented. We are looking at the parameters of the rules and then making a musical show based on the rules. So my job, I like to push what I have seen in the past Varieties shows and make it better and bigger than it already is.”

Mehls: “I have been a part of Varieties in some capacity for four years, and I have loved it ever since day one when I was Pooh Bear … Freshman year, I participated as a member, and I was Winnie the Pooh in our Disney musical. Sophomore year and junior year I was on the Varieties committee. This year, my senior year, I am the narrator of ‘Next Top Broadway Star: A Battle for the Spotlight.’”

What do you think the importance of Varieties is to Iowa State?

Baker: “What Varieties does is it give the students the opportunity to create something from scratch that is a show, but it also give the students that do not necessarily have time to juggle or do their comedian acts or anything, they are given that opportunity to come into Varieties and do their acts.

“If you are a comedian you also have the opportunity to be an MC when you come in and just ‘tell’ the whole show. It is just a really good opportunity for multiple mediums of people.”

Mehls: “I think the importance really revolves around tradition … I think that it is important to keep it up [because of it’s legacy.] I think that it has kind of been lacking in popularity.

“I think once you do it and once you get to the end of it, I think it is really special to have a show at the end of your hard work to show off to the crowd … I think it brings a lot of people together. I think it is a fun evening activity that is different than the usual weekend activities.”

What is your favorite part about working with Varieties?

Baker: “I just really like writing and just telling stories in a way I am really not able to do through my school work. I am a graphic design major, so I am constantly on the computer. I am constantly working with my hand, but I don’t necessarily get to talk through things or use other people throughout my work.

“When I am writing a musical, it it just another experience for me to get to grasp and also put in my portfolio, but it is something i really love to do as well.”

Mehls: “I think one of the favorite part is just meeting the people. I think I have met so many people through performing and being on the committee. It has definitely been for me to see both sides of it. I mean, obviously watching the shows, but then being able to participate on the other end.”

Is there anything you want Iowa State student to know about Varieties?

Baker: “It might be kind of expensive, but it is worth your money… There is a place for everyone in Varieties. If you are really good at playing an instrument, there is a spot for you. You can play your instrument form high school. If you are really good at just writing in general, there is always a need for people to be writing scripts, because that is one of the hardest things to do.”

Mehls: “I would say definitely come out and see what it is all about if you haven’t had the experience yet. If you [younger classmen] aren’t graduating … come try it out. I know it has been greek-dominated a lot in the past.”

“So definitely, whatever your background is, try it out. Come join a team. Make a team. Join a Vignette maybe … I would say if you haven’t tried it, give it a try … For all of the Iowa State students out there, I would say ‘Go out give it a try.’ You may enjoy it.”

Why do you think Iowa State Students should come see Varieties?

Baker: “Varieties has been going on for [87] years this year. It is a tradition that you know my mom was part of back in the day. She was in Varieties. It is just a place that is very near-and-dear to Iowa State’s heart.

“It is one of our biggest traditions, yet it is also not as known on campus. When students come, they are able to see what they could really do other than just being a student at Iowa State.”

Mehls: “One of my biggest things is that I always like to tell people to come watch what we have made, what we have been working so hard for four months on. I think it is crucial for Iowa State students, greek or not greek, to come out and see what a Broadway show looks like performed by students.

“I know it is a lot different and not as glamorous as those on Broadway or those on the big scenes or big stages. If anything, just come to get some laughs. I know often times we make a fool out of each other on stage. If they are looking for something to do, at least come watch us make a fool out of ourselves.”

For more information, visit the SUB website.