In December of 1860, the Dialectic Society gave an “entertainment” entitled “Toodles.” This forerunner of the 100th Night Show included two farces, a few dances, poetry and dramatic readings. During these years, before movies and television, amateur theater and musicales were often the only entertainment available to officers and families at West Point and these shows became a welcome part of life at West Point.
The first “100th Night Show” was a collection of skits presented by the First Class in 1871. The “Nineteenth Century Brevities” was performed in the Mess Hall, and resembled an English recitation more than anything else. By the late 1800’s the show moved to Grant Hall and was earning write ups in the New York Times. People began traveling all the way from the city to see the festivities. By 1902 the show found itself a proper stage in Cullum Hall, still used today for Cadet Hops with the Benny Havens Band. The next year the first full-length musical comedy, “The Caprices of Cupid” was staged by the Class of 1903 and ever since the “100th Night Show” has been a musical comedy. During the 1940’s and 50’s Academy Award winning lyricists like Sammy Cahn would take time off from writing lyrics for Frank Sinatra to work with Cadets crafting the next big 100th Night hit.
The story is not complete without mentioning the West Point Band’s “100th Night Show Orchestra” under the baton of SGM Scott Arcangel this year. The orchestra has always been built from members of the West Point Band and resembles a standard Broadway pit orchestra. For this years show SFC Mike Reifenberg has worked closely with Cadets for months, composing a full book of completely original music that covers everything from Broadway show tunes to Green Day-death-metal-rock.
This is the story of the 100th Night Show. You probably won’t hear many of the songs played again after the show, but we guarantee that you will be whistling at least a couple of them in the weeks to come.