Beyond the MBA Classroom: 37 Years of Wharton Follies

When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment, but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.

The Wharton Follies is both an annual musical comedy production that pokes fun at MBA life at Wharton and one of the school’s largest clubs, and it affords students the opportunity to shine in both creative and business roles. Entirely written, produced and performed by students and boasting a six-figure budget, it is one of the largest and longest-running such productions at any graduate program. Follies has run at Wharton for 37 years and typically features prominent members of the administration (including the dean, vice dean and director of admissions) and popular faculty members in cameo appearances.

The specific theme changes every year. For example, in 2013, the theme was “It’s a Whartonful Life,” and in 2012, it was “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” In addition to a live component, the Follies typically involve a number of video sketches, such as 2013’s “MBAs Assemble a Malm Bed from IKEA,” which depicts students from various top-ranked business schools proposing different strategies for furniture assembly—as of this posting, it had more than 58,000 views. A second year with whom we spoke explained that part of the appeal of Follies is that it “show[s] off student talent that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to witness.”

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at Wharton and 15 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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