Christmas trees, devils and memes packed into Woolsey Hall on the night of Halloween, chattering in anticipation for the Yale Symphony Orchestra Halloween show.
The annual show is one of the biggest events of the year, with tickets selling out online and desperate Yalies on Facebook offering to trade Harvard-Yale game tickets for YSO tickets. The Halloween show is the YSO’s most unique performance, featuring a silent film accompanied by a live soundtrack of pop music, iconic movie themes and classical pieces.
The Low Strung pre-show cello performance started at 11:30 p.m., and, at midnight sharp, the lights dimmed and the bone-rattling boom of the organ started off the Halloween show. Each section of the orchestra then paraded across the stage dressed up in group costumes ranging from Yale-inspired jokes like Yale special snowflakes and finance snakes — the oboes, one of whom removed his shirt to reveal the words “Goldman $achs” written on his chest — to pop culture favorites like the Incredibles and Pokemon. The loudest cheers, unsurprisingly, were for the moth and lamp group costume, representing a viral meme.
The theme this year was “Stranger College Years,” a nod to the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” The film followed three first-year suitemates in their quest to find the culprits behind a cult gathering they witnessed in the Woolsey Rotunda. Their search took them across campus to various cult-y suspects, including the Yale College Council and the Directed Studies department; they even made a stop at “Harvard.” Finally, in a dramatic reveal, the cult leader turned out to be their missing fourth suitemate. The plot got confusing at times and its connection to “Stranger Things” was slight at best, but, really, who goes to an orchestra show for the plot?
The film was full of laugh-out-loud moments in which the audience, primed by pregames, cheered so hard that it nearly drowned out the orchestra. Between the lawless fourth-wall-breaking and the Yale-specific you-had-to-be-there types of jokes, the show was cheesy but not afraid to make fun of itself. The crowd seemed to especially love the film’s economics references and several blunt jokes directed at Harvard — rest in peace. Campus personalities such as Marvin Chun and Laurie Santos also made appearances in the film, earning cheers and laughs. The film finally surprised everyone with various cameos from famous individuals, most notably Stephen Colbert and Jodie Foster ’85. The YSO itself impressed with their nonstop soundtrack, pairing the film’s scenes with iconic songs such as Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and the Star Wars “Imperial March” to set the right mood.
After the show ended at 1 a.m., students gathered in the rotunda to rave about the show together. The general consensus: For Halloween show first-timers, it was worth the $12–15 and skipping Hallowoads, but, for more seasoned showgoers, this year’s performance could not measure up to last year’s. As students scattered, some headed off to after parties and some straight to bed. For most, it had been a wholesome, fun and spooky time at the YSO Halloween show.
Ashley Fan | firstname.lastname@example.org .