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Artistic students entertain culture vultures

From feminist plays to poetry readings to dance performances to roaring musicals, Princeton has it all for the attentive "culture vulture."

Performing arts at Princeton include a wealth of activities, but one of the areas with the widest participation is theater.

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Two student-run theater groups, Triangle Club and Theatre-Intime (pronounced "onteem"), have long traditions of putting on entertaining and engaging dramatic productions.

During Orientation Week, Triangle Club presents a collage of some of its best numbers from recent years in a show that has become a Princeton tradition. This production provides a taste of the club's high-stepping entertainment. Be advised, however, that the lines for the performances are always long, so get there early.

Triangle, a century-old theatrical society, is one of the largest arts groups on campus. Jimmy Stewart '32 and Brooke Shields '87 were members of the nationally respected group, which continues to draw talented actors and a broad following.

While Triangle features musical comedy and flashy productions, Theatre-Intime — a self-supporting drama group — offers more serious fare on a regular basis. Its board of directors has freedom to mount productions representing a wide range of dramatic styles and tastes.

Last year Intime offered "Jeffrey," "Beyond Therapy" and "Assassins," among others.

In addition, the Princeton University Players offer two smaller-scale musicals per year. Past productions have included "West Side Story" and "The Who's Tommy."

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There are also several popular student dance groups at the University, all of which select their members through competitive auditions. The oldest dance group on campus — Expressions — was formed shortly after the University started accepting women. The company's biannual shows feature a wide range of styles, from ballet and modern dance to hip-hop and tap.

Another group relatively new to the campus, diSiac, provides students with movement to accompany popular, fast-moving music. diSiac's founder took her cue from London night clubs, which employ people to dance on their floors, encouraging others to move to the music.

Adding to the array of dance choices is the Black Arts Company, a group that does theater and comedy in addition to dance. Its dance productions showcase fast, challenging choreography written for hip-hop and R&B tunes.

BodyHype, a company created in 1990, focuses on funky and lyrical jazz dance by dancing to music from Black Sheep, Janet Jackson, and Sting, among others. BodyHype is particularly famous for its highly sexualized routines.

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The University-run Program in Theater and Dance hires professional directors to produce plays with student casts and funds student-written and -directed creative thesis productions.

...McCarter Theatre, the seventh-largest regional theater in the country, often hosts major talents such as Marcel Marceau, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, American Ballet Theater, Wynton and Ellis Marsalis and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company.

Now run by an independent corporation, McCarter was built in 1929 specifically for Triangle Club shows. The theater's renovation in the 1990s improved acoustics, ventilation and seating to create an even more "posh" ambience. McCarter recently built an annex — called the Berlind Theatre — to the back of the old structure.

Music rings

For the musically inclined, a multitude of groups exist, including the student orchestra, a chamber group, the wind ensemble and more than a dozen student-run a cappella groups.

The University's a cappella groups preserve the Princeton tradition of "arch sings" — events that take place most Thursday and Saturday nights in Blair and 1879 arches. During these popular gatherings, each group offers a sample of its distinctive musical style.

These groups include the all-male Footnotes, Tigertones and Nassoons and the all-female Tigerlilies, Wildcats and Tigressions. The others — the Roaring 20, Shere Khan and the Katzenjammers — are coed.

The FireHazards are Princeton's newest a cappella group and the only one that does not hold auditions. The 'Hazards bill themselves as a group that does not discriminate based on sexual orientation — or singing ability.

The Glee Club also performs concerts in both the fall and spring.

A thoroughly different musical experience can be found in the rowdy, ragtag Princeton University Marching Band, entering its 79th year of boisterous behavior. Watch for its pre-game performances on Cannon Green and their antics during football halftimes.

If the humor of the band doesn't suit your style — a common complaint — you might want to check out Quipfire!, Princeton's improvisational comedy troupe.

The coed group — with the self-declared purpose of poking fun at anything and everything — performs several shows annually and encourages students to bring outlandish props that comics then incorporate into the show.

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