Since 1919 College Night has redefined homecoming for one small liberal arts school in central   Alabama. Like all school homecoming celebrations, the University of Montevallo’s tradition combines competition with a swell of pride carried by current students and distant alumni. However, the tradition stands unique among the myriad of homecoming games that exist, one that it is entirely intramural.

The student body divides into the Purple side and the Gold side, UM’s school colors. Indeed, an intense rivalry has evolved over the years. There’s no rhyme or reason to selecting a side, except destiny and friendships. An elaborate rule system and governing council of professors guide participants through an early winter competition between the sides. Points are accumulated by winning various intramural sporting events and original musical productions.

The crowning star of the UM College Night tradition is the musical productions. Each side produces an original one act musical. Everything must be created by current students–scripts, music, lyrics, costumes, choreography, sets, and direction. The planning process usually begins upon election of the next year’s leaders in the late spring. Student-written scripts and music are submitted and selected in the fall.

However, no actual production work can begin until the first day of the Spring semester in mid-January; each side tries to keep its preparations secret until homecoming week.

Astoundingly, the daunting task of producing a quality music theater work is accomplished with a budget of $1600 per side. Juggling rehearsals and classes, each side rehearses until homecoming week, usually the second week of February.

Independent judges review the Saturday night shows, and finally show points are added to pre-production points, revealing either a Gold Victory or a Purple Victory.

Though at passing glance it can appear to be a short-lived event, the experience lasts a lifetime. College night has been described as the “crest on the wave of school spirit.” Yet, it is so much more. The camaraderie necessary to produce a magnificent piece of art under such limited time and resources builds strong friendships that endure beyond graduation on Flower Hill. Students develop production skills that challenge their artistic enthusiasm in a way that the classroom cannot. Without a doubt, the University of Montevallo has a jewel to be envied by other schools, and it shines both Purple and Gold.

The History

College Night is an 88-year tradition at Montevallo, and no other school has anything quite like it. The first performance in 1919 featured “college stunts” from each of the four classes. Within three years the event had become a contest between Purple and Gold teams.

Early College Nights included from each side a toast, a “pep song, “a slow song, a stunt and an impersonation, interspersed with cheers and music. Performances were staged in the dining hall until 1927, then in Reynolds Hall until 1930, when College Night moved to the new Palmer Auditorium. In 1950 students and faculty decided that each side should stage a single production, incorporating drama, comedy, music and dance.

College Night productions are original from the ground up. Scripts, music, sets and costumes are all created by students, and students direct, conduct and perform the final product.

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