Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Chi’s show “Balloonie Toons” took home the top prize to cap off the 70th annual Rock Chalk Revue on Saturday.
The philanthropic show has largely remained the same since it first premiered in 1949.
Rock Chalk Revue is a campus-wide variety show presenting five groups of combined students from one sorority and one fraternity who have developed a production of singing, dancing, acting or all three. The participants develop their own storylines and costumes.
Auditions for Rock Chalk Revue begin in the fall semester. The number is then cut down to five who perform three nights in a row at the Lied Center in the spring.
Henry Killen, a senior from Winona, Minnesota, and the executive director of Rock Chalk Revue this year, elected to oversee the production. Killen said the format of Rock Chalk Revue has remained the same over the years, making it a staple for alumni.
“[Rock Chalk Revue] is at a point now where it is three or four generations old where grandparents can come back and watch their grandkids be in the show. And they can say they were in the show 65, 70 years ago,” Killen said. “It’s really one of the great KU traditions. It’s special.”
The philanthropic event will now donate 80 percent of the proceeds to a Lawrence-based charity. The organization is chosen every two years with the 69th and 70th shows donating to the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence while the remaining 20 percent is donated to student scholarships via the Dream Maker Fund.
“This is a really unique way for people to come together to raise money,” Killen said. “It’s been around for so long and people are so passionate about it — all the way back to the ‘40s until now.”
Daniel Erickson, a senior from Omaha, Nebraska, is also an executive director who has participated in Rock Chalk Revue all four years of college. Even though his role has changed throughout his time with the production, Rock Chalk Revue's goal has remained the same.
“I think that is one of the best things about Rock Chalk Revue,” Erickson said. “Throughout its history, it’s stayed true to what it’s all about — to the philanthropy aspect of it.”
Erickson said the changes he has noticed involve the individual groups — an increased intricacy and commitment from all involved.
“Compared to years past, people are getting a lot more in-depth in the storyline and character development and set build,” Erickson said. “They are really putting on these amazing productions and it’s getting better and better every year.”
Erickson, whose fraternity Phi Gamma Delta was part of the winning group last year, loves seeing the improvement from the first audition to the final show.
“It’s such an amazing thing to watch from our perspective,” Erickson said. “We’ve worked with these shows throughout an entire year now. Just watching the leap of improvement, the Wednesday dress rehearsal to the Thursday show is huge and something we’re really excited about.”
After the show, Erickson said the 70th year is on pace to be the best-earning year and set fundraising records. There was no true front-runner going into the final night and Erickson said every group proved they could win with their performances before “Balloonie Toons” took home to final prize.
“[All the performances] went very well,” Erickson said. “We were so proud of every group and their performances.”