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Lagniappe-Potpourri: through the ages

Sean Casey
October 18, 2012
Filed under Features

The annual Lagniappe-Potpourri show is a staple of New Trier student life. It consistently draws the biggest audiences of any student production. It might be impossible to find a student who has not seen the show at least once by the time he has finished his four years. What’s even more incredible is the fact that lagniappe has been in production for over 70 years. With that in mind, its staggering to think about the number of students who have seen the play over the years.
While every student and staff member at New Trier can tell you what it is, the name Lagniappe-Potpourri will mystify any outsiders. What exactly does Lagniappe-Potpourri mean, and who chose it? The name certainly has an interesting history. Lagniappe is an American French word meaning “a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase”. Interestingly enough, according to Merriam Webster, Lagniappe is actually pronounced \ˈlan-ˌyap, not /‘lan-yop, as most students call it. Potpourri is a French word that means a miscellaneous collection.

Back in the day, the show was simply called Lagniappe. When New Trier West opened its doors in 1965, they created a similar show named Potpourri. When the schools combined in 1981, the show kept both names and became Lagniappe-Potpourri, which it is still known as today.
Lagniappe hasn’t always been the sketch show that it is today. Some 70 years ago, Lagniappe was a talent show started by Tri-Ship as way to raise funds for scholarships. Over the years the show has changed, evolving into the revue based student run show that it is today. During the 70’s and 80’s, Lagniappe was a full-fledged musical, with characters and a plot.
Since the late eighties the same sketch comedy premise of Lagniappe stays the same, with each cast adding its own look and feel, relevant to each generation. Last year’s theme centered around the Mayan apocalypse certainly would’ve seemed less funny to an audience of New Trier students from the 1950’s.

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