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‘It’s so much more than just a funny show:’ 45th annual Keenan Revue to take place in Notre Dame Stadium

| Friday, April 30, 2021

Following the Blue-Gold Game on Saturday, Notre Dame Stadium will be transformed to host the annual Keenan Revue for the first time in the event’s history.

The Revue, Keenan Hall’s signature event since 1976, is typically held in the Stepan Center over a span of three nights in February. In order to allow as many attendees as possible into the show while still following COVID-19 protocols, the Notre Dame Stadium will host the Revue this year.

There will be two performances at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Each showing will allow 500 attendees, who will be sitting physically distanced on the field. Tickets are distributed to designated guests of Keenan Hall residents, according to senior and Keenan Revue director Tony Castrodale.

Due to the annual spring football game, the set for the Revue will have to be put together in one night.

“We’re rolling in with forklifts and lighting trusses to put together a show about 24 hours before it’s supposed to happen,” Castrodale said.

The theme of the 45th Revue is “Lollarevueza,” a play on the global music festival “Lollapalooza.” The Revue consists of three parts: comedy sketches written by Keenan residents, a band complete with a brass section and a dance routine.

Courtesy of Tony Castrodale
The theme of the 2021 Keenan Revue is “Lollarevueza,” playing off the popular music festival “Lollapalooza.”

“We colloquially refer to [the dance routine] as ‘stripping,’ but in a more nice way it is dancing that is suggestive and risqué, perhaps,” senior and co-producer Thomas Leeker said.

Castrodale said the Revue serves as an opportunity to connect with those in the Notre Dame community and make fun of life on campus.

“There’s so many odds and ends and nuances of life as a student at Notre Dame, there’s so many traditions here, there are so many things that you run into that most other schools wouldn’t have,” Castrodale said. “We leverage those to our advantage to find a way to turn them into something really clever and turn it into something that is relatable to pretty much everyone in the crowd.”

During the show, the cast and band members will wear masks and socially distance in accordance with the University’s COVID-19 protocols. To help follow the protocols, Castrodale and Leeker set up a grid on the stage. Pieces of tape are located three feet apart from each other and cast members must always be at least two pieces of tape away from each other, Castrodale said.

Despite the various restrictions and changes to the Revue, Castrodale said he hopes the Revue will retain as many of its normal elements as possible. 

“We’re excited to be in such an iconic location on campus,” Castrodale said. “We’re trying our very best despite the obvious restrictions with masks and with distancing and all those kinds of things to make the Keenan Revue as traditional, if you will, as it could be.”

Courtesy of Tony Castrodale
A student musician performs during last year’s Keenan Revue.

Castrodale said planning for the Revue began in October. The process was difficult, he added, because the team had no idea what safety measures would be in place by the time the show rolled around — something they did not know either.

“We absolutely had literally zero clue of what we were doing,” Castrodale said.

The staff was expanded this year in order to help plan through all the restrictions and changes, Leeker said. According to Castrodale, the staff consists of about 40 Keenan residents and about 116 residents make up the cast. Former Keenan residents who now live off campus also take part in the show.

“It took a lot of work from all those guys to really pull this together,” Leeker said. “It’s been a long and somewhat arduous process to work through all the necessary precautions and administrative issues with the show.”

Additionally, the staff has partnered with Fighting Irish Media and EventSys, a South Bend company that specializes in audio and visual equipment, to help film the event and run the technical aspects of the show. Castrodale said the video board and sky cam will be in use with the help of Fighting Irish Media. 

Because of University guidelines, finding space for rehearsal has been a challenge, Castrodale said. Some nights rehearsal has taken place in the Keenan parking lot, sometimes rehearsal takes place in the Keenan basement with as many people as are allowed to fit. On Wednesday night, the rehearsal location was room 105 in the Jordan Hall of Science. 

“The Revue is everywhere — quite literally,” Castrodale said.

The production of the show is funded primarily by donations from Keenan Hall alumni, Keenan Hall parents and alumni and friends of the University, according to Castrodale. Leeker and Castrodale said the consistent donations are possible because the Revue is a unique opportunity to bring the hall community together and showcase talent. 

“It really brings the community together in ways that other things cannot,” Leeker said.

Castrodale added that the arduous process of executing the show and planning serves as a way to form relationships with those from all backgrounds throughout the hall.

“It transcends friend groups. It transcends sections,” Castrodale said. “It’s so much more than just a funny show.”

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a sophomore in Knott Hall who hails from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in business analytics and minoring in constitutional studies. He currently serves as an associate news editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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