By Sam Roschewsk
What do F. Scott Fitzgerald, Professor of Music Reginald Sanders and Brooke Shields have in common? A lot more than you might think. Each of these notable figures is an alum of the Princeton Triangle Club, a comedy group from the namesake New Jersey University that specializes in musical theater.
Founded in 1891, the group is the oldest musical theater troupe in the U.S., and tours annually to perform a student-written comedy musical. On Wednesday, Jan. 28 the group graced Rosse Hall with a show.
However, this performance didn’t just come about by luck. With the help of some enthusiastic alumni and professors, Kenyon was able to bring the comedy of Princeton to the Hill. Sanders, College Historian and Keeper of Kenyoniana Thomas Stamp Thomas Stamp, Richard Brean ’70, and Allen Jackson (whose wife is a Kenyon alumna), spearheaded this project and used each of their connections with both Kenyon and Princeton to bring this event to fruition.
“I was involved from my freshman year,” Sanders said of the Princeton Triangle Club. “At that time they would do a small fall show, and a big spring show. … So I did one fall show, and three spring shows, and in my senior year I was the financial manager.” Sanders, having worked this closely with the Triangle Club, knew how beneficial this show would be for the Kenyon community. Some other connections really helped push it along. “So when I was a freshman at Princeton, a senior and the president of the club was a man named Allen Jackson,” Sanders said. “Many years later, it turns out, his wife is a Kenyon alum and all three of his kids went here. One parents’ weekend he recognized me from all those years ago, and we’ve been in touch since.” Jackson realized the Triangle Club had two nights free between their stops in Pittsburgh and Chicago, and thought it would be a great idea for the club to stop at Kenyon.
In addition to these two men having the Princeton-Kenyon connection, there was also Brean, who did graduate work at Princeton, and Stamp, who worked at the university. “I first saw the annual show in Pittsburgh with a high school friend who was then a Princeton freshman,” Stamp wrote in an email to the Collegian. “After I began working at Princeton several years later, I always made it a point to attend the club’s on-campus performances, which were always entertaining.”
Brean, who is both a Kenyon and Princeton alum, as well as a personal friend of Stamp, found out about the project and decided to get involved too. It was truly a group effort and passionate connection to both schools that allowed the Princeton Triangle Club to visit Kenyon. The Triangle Club brought a triple threat of comedy, vocals and choreography, as they showed in their opening number, “Nothing Ever Happens in Princeton.” Their sharp movements and tight harmonies showed that there was only much more goodness to come.
Their musical numbers were easily the strongest of their performance. One number that stuck out in particular was “Bad Habits,” a song about a bunch of nuns who were upset about not getting raptured in the apocalypse. It was hilariously done and the song itself was incredibly catchy.
Some of our own Kenyon student comedians were part of the show, performing some of their own classic sketches, and they were wonderful as always. It was particularly rewarding to see the Princeton students laughing just as hard as the Kenyon students were at all the jokes.
“They were very passionate about what they did, and it was a universally enjoyable experience because of that,” Luca Agunos ’18 said after the show. The show was truly enjoyable for all ages; whether it was a first-year student, a professor, or a community member, everyone left Rosse Hall with a smile on his or her face.