418 South Illinois Avenue, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, United States

(618) 457-5353

A historic visual and performing arts venue in downtown Carbondale, IL.


Terriers Live! Comedy Improv


7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22
$8 adults / $4 students (Tix at Door Only)
Doors and Varsity Bar at 7

Terriers Live! Improv Comedy troupe returns to The Varsity for its regular fourth Friday performance on Friday, Feb. 22. 

The talented group of students is based at Carbondale Community High School. They perform a variety of short-form improvisational games. The show is appropriate for all ages.

The troupe is sponsored by CCHS teachers Erik Berrey and Josh Taylor. Their work is made possible through a grant from the Garwin Family Foundation.

Tickets are available only at the door on the night of show when doors open at 7 p.m. That’s also when the Varsity Bar opens, featuring wine, beer, select cocktails, non-alcohol beverages and snacks.

Carnival Drag Show


7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23
$8 adv / $10 night of show
Doors and Varsity Bar at 6

There’s no better time to let loose and have fun than in the days and nights leading up to Lent. This year, the Carnival Drag Show at The Varsity will be offering everyone a chance to be bad before you have to be good.

Join host Blanche DuBois and a bevvy of others on Saturday, Feb. 23, for comedy and song. Joining in the revelry will be Jodie Santana, Jasmine Cavalli, Kailey Kreme, Faim Lee Jewls and Holly Haliwell.

The show starts promptly at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. Tickets are $8 in advance. Tickets also will be available at the venue for $10 on the night of the event when doors open at 6. That’s also when the Varsity Bar opens, so feel free to come early and have a special cocktail or two.


Young people are welcome to attend, but the show is on the R-rated side, so those under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.


Rafe Williams Comedy


7 p.m. Saturday, March 2


Doors and Varsity Bar at 6:30

Comedy phenomenon Rafe Williams returns home to Southern Illinois for one night only to present Rafe Williams & Friends: Comedy Homecoming.

Williams, who attended school at Elverado, has made a successful ascent in the world of comedy with accolades like a 2017 award from Riverfront Times Magazine as “The Funniest in STL” and gigs opening for national headliners like Dave Attell, Kyle Kinane and Joey Diaz. A relentlessly charismatic performer with a refreshing approach, Rafe is known for projects that include standup comedy, regular performances at The Improv Shop and his role as a writer and cast member for late-night sketch comedy talk show STL Up Late.

Rafe and his friends, Libbie Higgins, Bobby Jaycox and Tina Dybal are some of the best talent in comedy today. 

With one foot planted in his humble midwestern roots and one planted in the world of progressive dissidence, he brings his authentic and original point-of-view to personal and social issues that he explores on stage.

 Tickets also will be available at the door on the night of the show, after doors open at 6:30. They are not available in advance at the venue before that time.


Kevin Purcell in “Prairie Voices”

Actor and director Kevin Purcell of Cobden presents ‘Prairie Voices.’

7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10
Free Admission, Donations Appreciated
Doors and Varsity Bar at 7

"To contemplate the prairie is to fathom time. To guess at infinite space. To find the earth spirit in a dreaming mood … in Illinois the prairies are a soul … a muse of distance eyeing the solitude …” The words are those of Illinois author and poet Edgar Lee Masters. 

The work of Masters, along with that of Illinois poets and storytellers Carl Sandburg and Vachel Lindsay, is featured in a one-man show called “Prairie Voices,” a collection of poems and songs that celebrate the beauty of the Illinois prairie and its people.

Actor and director Kevin Purcell will perform the piece at The Varsity on Sunday, March 10. Special guest performer Lemay Henderson will join Purcell. Henderson is a folk singer and physician who works in remote wilderness areas in Canada. She and Purcell will sing several songs that celebrate the prairie landscape. Pianist Rebecca Newburn will acompany the duo. 

Twelve years ago, Purcell compiled these songs and poems and has been performing “Prairie Voices” around the state ever since, including shows in Springfield at the Old State Capitol. This will be his first performance of the work in Southern Illinois.

Purcell has been seen locally in David Rush's plays “Lenny Dreaming” and “To My Dear Wife,” as well as “A Child's Christmas in Wales.” 

The one-hour performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 10. Doors and the Varsity Bar open at 7. There is no charge for the performance, but donations will be appreciated, in support of programs like this at the nonprofit performance venue.