Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (Retired), MS, PMP, LSSMBB
100th Night - Class of '79
The tradition of 100th Night dates back as far as 1871. It started as a collection of skits presented by the first class, or firsties, as they mark the countdown setting 100 days left until graduation. In 1903, the firsties presented the very first full-length musical comedy and every show since then has been a musical comedy.
Prior to the evening's entertainment for the Firsties, however, the Plebes are provided an hour or two of entertainment just prior and during the evening meal. In a tradition called 'Role reversal,' the Plebes assume the role of Firsties while the Firsties become Plebes. Needless to say, Plebes, invariably, take this opportunity to seek out and 'mentor' their most favorite Firsties.
The significance of West Point’s 100th night event was a key theme in the 1950 movie “The West Point Story” which stars James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Gordon McRae and Doris Day. Broadway director Elwin “Bix” Bixby (Cagney) is down on his luck and is reluctantly persuaded to go to West Point with a beautiful assistant (Mayo) to help the cadets put on their 100th night show. His real motive is to recruit the cadet star of the show (McRae) to leave West Point and the Army for a career on Broadway, working for Bixby’s boss (who is the cadet’s uncle). Bixby must live as a cadet, and experiences cadet life and learns to appreciate the value of West Point. Not surprisingly, there are many tidbits of USMA trivia embedded in the script, see how many you can spot.
HISTORY OF THE 100TH NIGHT SHOW
The 100th Night Show had its humble beginning in the form of a collection of skits, presented by the First Class in 1871. The "Nineteenth Century Brevities," as it was called, was presented in the Mess Hall, and resembled an English recitation more than anything else.
That changed in 1902, when the show found itself a stage in Cullum Hall. The next year, the Class of 1903 presented the first full-length musical comedy, "The Caprices of Cupid" as its 100th Night Show.
Ever since, the 100th Night Show has been a musical comedy. The show has been housed in Cullum Hall and South Auditorium (now Robinson Auditorium) before finally resting in Eisenhower Hall Theatre.
The show itself is a humorous look at the life of a class throughout its four years at West Point. With that said, it is important to keep in mind that the intent of the show and the cadets involved is to lightheartedly poke fun at West Point, its cultural idiosyncrasies, and various events, circumstances and even people that have shaped our class.
Most of it is based in truth, some exaggerated, and all of it offered in the name of humor and entertainment. While West Point tends to be a rather stoic place, the beauty of this show is that it serves as a reminder of the importance of laughter in order that we not take ourselves too seriously.
Role reversal...nothing like wearing the Regimental Commander's Dress Grey as a Plebe.
A more serious look? Na...
Now, my roommate, Russ 'Festus' Allen...he's the man.
The D-3 Plebe mob begin to gather...
...the Rabel Rousers work the crowd.
...and begin to work over our company Firsties.
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