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Hancock fraternity adds Stage Revue title

HOUGHTON – Phi Kappa Tau members began their day putting the finishing touches on their first-place snow statue. They ended it with another first, as their sketch about a professor and his student traveling to famous moments in American history grabbed the top spot in the Stage Revue event of Michigan Technological University’s Winter Carnival.

“Last year, we came in second, and it kind of made us come back even harder this year,” said fifth-year electrical engineering major Matt LeMay, who played the professor.

Army ROTC finished in second, with Raptor/Shangri-La finishing third. Phi Kappa Tau also nabbed the audience choice award.

The main concept came from Phi Kappa Tau’s chairman. They’ve been practicing every day for the past three-and-a-half weeks, said fifth-year electrical engineering student Matt LeMay, who played the professor.

“It was actually our chairman who came up with the whole thing,” he said. “We all liked it, and we all just added in our own jokes and lines.”

As much as they rehearsed the work, they also did some improv training as a contingency plan. it came in handy when technical programs threatened to derail the skit during the portion where they leap into the Apollo 11 mission just before launch.

“Apparently nobody noticed, so we pulled it off,” LeMay said.

Much like “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” they grabbed historical figures – Ben Franklin, Neil Armstrong and Mark Hamill – and brought them to the present day. Unlike that movie, the skit also grappled with the impact of their removal from the timeline.

They’re the ones responsible for Donald Trump’s presidential run, for one thing. But first, there was an even bigger change.

“Oh my God! Northern Michigan University never existed?” the professor said. “I thought we did something bad.”

As always, NMU was a popular target, popping up throughout the skits as an emotional interpretive dance major, or a version of the hapless Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

“It’s just a scratch,” the Black Knight said after taking a sword wound. “I never use my head anyway.”

In keeping with this year’s theme, “As Snow Accumulates at Alarming Rates, We Show Our Love for the 50 States,” other states were frequent targets – like Alabama (inbred hicks), Colorado (stoners) and Wisconsin (doltish, trigger-happy cheeseheads).

Groups also used the skits to comment on campus issues. Second-place finishers Army ROTC issued a disclaimer at the start of its sketch that it would be unpalatable to vice president for student affairs and advancement Les Cook (also a Stage Revue judge). The sketch that followed featured multiple intrusions from “the PC Police,” who raised objections to things such as “rainbow salmon.”

Delta Phil Epsilon’s “Good Morning MTU” used the morning TV show format to send up collegiate concerns such as new printer fees.

“After investing thousands of dollars into the library updates, the school has started to charge for black and white printing,” said an on-scene reporter. “In retaliation, students have started stealing all of the unnecessarily ornate lamps on the second floor of the Van Pelt building and putting them on eBay to pay for their printing.”

Thursday night’s eight contestants were chosen after auditions in December.

The stage revue carries the most weight of any event in Winter Carnival, with 50 points going to the winner. Overall winners are announced at a ceremony Saturday night.