The Mee-Ow Show was founded at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 1974 by student creators & producers Paul Warshauer and Josh Lazar. The first original Mee-Ow Show, "Just in Time," was the first performance in the newly constructed McCormick Auditorium in Norris University Center. The show has been a staple of the Northwestern theatre and comedy scene ever since, still using some form of the cat as a logo each year.
According to Creator/Producer Paul Warshauer, he was approached by Josh Lazar in a hallway in the Foster Walker Dormitory in the fall of 1973 to assist him producing a new show on campus. Lazar had submitted material to the Waa-Mu Show and in his opinion, “they butchered it.”
The original logo art was created by Rob Maciunas in 1973. Northwestern's mascot is a Wildcat so the logo was a tribute to the school's feline roots.
Lazar purchased a display ad entitled, “Had Enough of Waa-Mu?” in the October 8th, 1973 issue of The Daily Northwestern asking students to call Lazar or Warshauer for more information. The October 12th issue ran an announcement urging “All Those Creatively Inclined” to attend an informational meeting on October 17. After a few initial meetings, the group was recognized as a student organization by the Northwestern Student Government early in 1974. Additional funding was supplied by Patrick Goldstein then Chairman of the arts organization known as “Orgy of the Arts.” With official recognition, an office, and a storage locker in the Norris Student Center, the group grew to include a set designer, Chris Rusch, a marketing and promotion Director, Terri Blum, a music director, George Lisle, a Surrealist-in-Residence, Joseph Radding, and the show’s first Director, Jeff Wilson.
"Mee-Ow" was created in reaction to the "closed door policies" of the venerable Waa-Mu Show, Northwestern's long running annual musical revue. A new open door policy, based on the philosophy of Henry Miller, that "Everyman is an Artist." Submission of material began immediately and included poetry, original songs, comedy sketches and dance routines. These were reviewed by the producers and the director. An overarching theme of traveling through time was put in place based on the material submitted. The show featured traditional song and dance numbers, poetry, and sketch comedy. The cast and crew numbered 50 on stage and behind the scenes. The orchestra, consisting of 13 performers was placed on stage left and was directed by George Lisle. The first Mee-Ow Show ran April 12, 13 & 14, 1974. With a large cast and orchestra, the show ran over three hours but set the stage for what would become one of the longest running student created improvisational shows in history.
In 1975, after mixed reviews and political & financial issues, the Mee-Ow Show was re-conceived and directed by two of its cast members, Bill Nuss (class of 1976) and Eugene "Dusty" Kay (Class of 1976), as a musical comedy review with a smaller cast, taking its inspiration from Chicago's The Second City, Kentucky Fried Theatre and Monty Python. The dance numbers were choreographed by Wendy Taucher and Karen Pepper served as Music Director. Richard Kotrba served as "Comedy Coordinator," thus beginning the long legacy of comedy and improvisation as the basis for future shows.
The name of the show was almost changed to Improv '75, but instead the name and cat logo for Mee-Ow was maintained. Kay and Nuss co-directed the '75 and '76 versions.
According to cast member Jeff Lupetin, the first time audience suggestions were taken from the audience was 1977. Music has been a part of the show since 1974 in one form or another either with a show band, keyboardist or combo. According to cast member Rush Pearson, Mee-Ow featured "And The and the And Thes," the first ROCK band in 1982. Although performances were limited at first to the two venues in Norris University Center, (McCormick Auditorium and the Louis Room), additional performances started at Shanley Hall in 1982.
A great number of Mee-Ow alumni have gone on to perform and teach improv at many of the country's top improv venues, such as Chicago's The Second City, Improv Olympic and the Annoyance Theater, New York's Magnet Theater, The P.I.T., The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, LA's Groundlings, iO WEST, and UCB West. Mee-Ow alumni also founded Boom Chicago in Amsterdam and created the popular TV series "Whose Line is it Anyway?"
An extensive archive of the Mee-Ow Show from its first show to the present is maintained in the Northwestern Archives in the Deering Library in Evanston, IL.
Craig Bierko - Actor, "The Music Man", "Cinderella Man", "Scary Movie 3"
Carly Cairrocchi - Host, PBS Kids Sprout's "Sunny Side Up Show"
Liz Cackowski - Writer, "Saturday Night Live", Actor, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"
Heather Anne Campbell - Writer, "Saturday Night Live," "Animation Domination High-Def," Actor "Whose Line is it Anyway?"
Daniele Gaither - Actor, "MadTV"
Ana Gasteyer - Actor, "Saturday Night Live"
Eric Gilliland - Writer, "The Wonder Years", "Roseanne", "That '70s Show"
Rachel Hamilton - Actor, The Second City, "30 Rock"
Kyle T. Heffner - Actor, "Flashdance", "Runaway Train"
Dusty Kay - Producer, "Roseanne", "Entourage"
Spencer Kayden - Actor, "Urinetown," "MADtv"
John Lehr - Actor, "10 Items or Less"
Jessica Lowe - Actor, "Blended"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Actor, "Saturday Night Live", "Seinfeld", "The New Adventures of Old Christine"
J. P. Manoux - Actor, "The Emperor's New School"
Josh Meyers - Actor, "MADtv", "That '70s Show"
Seth Meyers - Actor/Head Writer, "Saturday Night Live," "Late Night"
John Cameron Mitchell - Actor, Writer, Director "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", "Shortbus"
Dermot Mulroney - Actor, "My Best Friend's Wedding", "The Family Stone"
Bill Nuss - Writer - "The A-Team", "21 Jump Street", "Pacific Blue".
Dana Olsen - Writer/Producer, "The 'Burbs", "George of the Jungle"
Dan Patterson - Creator of "Whose Line is it Anyway?"
Keith Reddin - Playwright
Jon Rosenfeld - Founder, Artistic Director, "Boom Chicago"
Kristen Schaal - Actor, "Flight of the Conchords"
Jean Villepique - Actor, The Second City, "The Office"
2017: Mee-Ow Enters the Twilight Zone and Mee-Ow’s Anatomy. Produced by: Devon Levy. Directed by: Izzy Gerasole and Ben Gauthier. Featuring: Ben Gauthier, Izzy Gerasole, Will Altabef, Dan Leahy, Devyn Johnson, Nabeel Muscatwalla, Harry Wood, Allie Levitan, Maya Armstrong. Featuring the band Moonlight Palace: Alex Warshawsky, Music Director. Ogi Ifediora, Aiden Fisher, Julius Tucker, Leo Galbraith-Paul, Victor Lalo, Curtis Boysen, Lorenzo Gonzalez-Lamassonne.
2016: "Ctrl Alt Mee-Ow" & "Speak Mee-Ow or Forever Hold Your Peace" Directors: Jack Olin and Natalie Rotter-Laitman. Cast: Chanse McCrary, Ben Gauthier, Izzy Gerasole, Will Altabef, Eva Victor, Caroline Reedy, Dan Leahy. Producer: Devon Levy
2015 "Mee-Ow Presents: THE TRUTH" & "The 87th Annual AcadeMEE-OWards" Dir: Nick DiMaso, Dir: Emma Cadd, Scott Egleston, Ben Gauthier, Alex Heller, Chanse McCrary, Jack Olin, Natalie Rotter-Laitman, Anne Sundell, Producer: Mallory Harrington
2014 (40th Anniversary Show) "You're Invited to Mee-Owy Kate and Ashley's Sleepover Party" & "Mee-Ow Kills Curiosity: A Tail of Revenge" Dir: Amina Munir, Dir: Emma Cadd, Pat Buetow, Nick DiMaso, Scott Egleston, Gaby Febland, Jack Olin, Laurel Zoff Pelton, Producer: Alexander Gold
2013 "Mee-Ow Presents: The Great Catsby" & "Mee-Ow That's What I Call Comedy! Vol. 40!" Dir: Sam Fishell, Dir: Emily Olcott, Pat Buetow, Emma Cadd, Gaby Febland, Matthew Hays, Michael Janak, Amina Munir, Brendan Scannell, Producer: Francesca Mennella
2012 "Dr. Faustus Mee-Owstus" & "Three's Company, Ten's Mee-Ow" Dir: Nick Gertonson, Dir: Caroline Goldfarb, Sam Fishell, Matthew Hays, Drigan Lee, Tucker May, Amina Munir, Emily Olcott, Austin Perry, Brendan Scannell
2011 "Mee-Ow Is Dating A Monster" & "Glee-Ow: Mee-Ow Sells Out" Danielle Calvert, Dir: Aaron Eisenberg, Sam Fishell, Nick Gertonson, Caroline Goldfarb, Tucker May, Ryan Nunn, Isabel Richardson, Dir: Marie Semla, Producer: Jeremy Shpizner
2010 "The Mee-Ow Show: A Tail of Nine Lives" & "The Mee-Ow Kids Solve a Murder at Chuck Fuffalo's" Dir: Jen D'Angelo, James Daniel, Aaron Eisenberg, Nick Gertonson, Dir: Tim McGovern, Ryan Nunn, Isabel Richardson, Marie Semla, Josh Waytz
2009 "Mee-Ow Presents Dr. Pepper's Homely Joke Brigade" & "Mee-Ow Screws the Pooch" Jen D'Angelo, James Daniel, Tim McGovern, Jessica McKenna, Jack Novak, Joel Sinensky, Sarah Grace Welbourn, Conner White
2008 "Mee-Ow is the Winter of our Discontent" & "Mee-Ow Talks Down to Children" Dan "DR" Bruhl, Carly Ciarrocchi, James Daniel, Dan Foster, Jessica McKenna, Jack Novak, Sarah Grace Welbourn, Adam Welton
2007 "Mee/Ow '08: Mee-Ow Declares Its Candidacy" & "Mee-Ow's Anatomy" Dan Bruhl, Carly Ciarrocchi, Chris Hejl, Nick Kanellis, Jessica Lowe, Jack Novak, Matt Sheelen, Adam Welton
2006 "Mee-Ow is Dead" & "Mee-Ow Pulls Out . . .of Iraq" Russ Armstrong, Dir: John Dixon, Nick Kanellis, Jessica Lowe, Kelly O’Sullivan, Matt Sheelen, Adam Welton, Nayla Wren
2005 "Mee-Ow Admits, Mee-Ow has a Problem" & "Mee-Ow Goes to Old Orchard" Russ Armstrong, John Dixon, Briggs Hatton, Nick Kanellis, Jessica Lowe, Peter McNerney, Dir: Bridget Moloney, Joanna Simmons
2004 "Danger on University Place" & "It’s Not You it’s Mee-Ow" John Dixon, Briggs Hatton, Jason Kessler, Bridget Moloney, Kate Mulligan, Joe Petrilla, Sheila Shaigany, Dir: Dan Sinclair, Producer: Jack Sachs
2003 "Mee-Ow Saves Christmas" & "There’s a Bear in The Theater" Chris Gorbos, Briggs Hatton, Jason Kessler, Dir: Martha Marion, Alex Marlin, Bridget Moloney, Kate Mulligan, Dan Sinclair, Producer: Dory Weiss
2002 "Mee-Owed to be an American" Laura Grey, Ryan Harrison, Jess Lacher, Dan Mahoney, Martha Marion, Kate Mulligan, Lee Overtree, Frank Smith, Producer: Dory Weiss
2001 Drew Calendar, Laura Grey, Ryan Harrison, Jess Lacher, Dan Mahoney, Martha Marion, Matt McKenna, Lee Overtree
2000 "Mee-Ow on Ice" Heather Campbell, Lauren Flans, Ryan Harrison, Luke Hatton, Jess Lacher, Matt McKenna, Kristen Schaal, Scott Speiser
1999 "The Last Mee-Ow Show Ever" David Asher, Liz Cackowski, Heather Campbell, Luke Hatton, Jamey Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Michael Sinclair, Scott Speiser
1998 Liz Cackowski, Heather Campbell, Luke Hatton, Josh Meyers, Ryan Raddatz, Jemey Roberts, Robin Shorr, Justin Spitzer, David Terry
1997 Jill Alexander, Heather Campbell, Josh Meyers, Ryan Raddatz, Jamey Roberts, Robin Shorr, David Terry
1996 Jill Alexander, Peter Grosz, Rob Janas, Laura McKenzie, Seth Meyers, Ryan Raddatz, Robin Shorr, Sarah Yarra
1995 Jill Alexander, Ed Herbstman, Rob Janas, Louise Lamson, Jean Villepique, Dan Weiss, Adrian Wenner, Liv Oslund
1994 "Politically Erect" Jill Alexander, Ed Herbstman, Louise Lamson, Ethan Sandler, Jean Villepique, Amanda Weier, Dan Weiss, Jason Winer, Adrian Wenner
1993 "The Tao of Mee-Ow" Colby Bessera, Anjali Bhimani, Abby Cohen, Ed Herbstman, Ethan Sandler, Deborah Stern, Paul Vaillancourt, Jean Villepique, Amanda Weier, Dan Weiss, Adrian Wenner
1992 "It’s a Wonderful Life Sentence" Lesley Bevan, Scott Duff, Anne Eggleston, Daniele Gaither, Chris Grady, Lillie Hubscher, Mark Kretzmann, Bruce McCoy, Jean Villepique
1991 "Are You There God? It’s Mee-Ow" Lesley Bevan, George Brant, Daniele Gaither, Rachel Hamilton, Mark Kretzmann, J. P. Manoux, Bruce McCoy, Jon Mozes, Kirsten Nelson
1990 "Sunday Eating Pork with George" Jill Cargerman, Jason De Santo, Kate Fry, Lillie Hubscher, Spencer Kayden, J. P. Manoux, Philip Pawelczyk, Greg Rice, Jon Rosenfeld
1989 "Salvador's Deli" Bo Blackburn, Jill Cargerman, Tim Ereneta, Ana Gasteyer, Mary Jackman, Spencer Kayden, Eric Letzinger, J. P. Manoux, Philip Pawelczyk
1988 "Mee-Ow Tse Tung" Bo Blackburn, Betsy Braham, Jill Cargerman, Tim Ereneta, Stu Feldman, Ana Gasteyer, Jessica Hughes, John Lehr, Jerry Saslow
1987 "Eating Mee-Ow" Mollie Allen, Bo Blackburn, Jon Craven, Marc Goldsmith, Melanie Hoopes, Lisa Houle, John Lehr, Catherine Newman, Jerry Saslow, Matt Wolka
1986 "Oedipuss ‘n’ Boots" Mollie Allen, Dave Clapper, Jon Craven, Andy Hirsch, Lisa Houle, Jessica Hughes, John Lehr, Barry Levin, Catherine Newman, Dan Patterson, Chris Pfaff
1985 "Local an’ Aesthetic" Beth Bash, Craig Bierko, Karen Schiff, Rich Kaplan, Dermot Mulroney, George Newbern, Richard Radutsky, Allyson Rice, Romy Rosemont
1984 "Escape From Baltic Avenue" Karen Cooper, Jesse Dabson, Eric Gilliland, Kelly Hughes, Rich Kaplan, Wendy Messing, John Cameron Mitchell, Dermot Mulroney, Richard Radutsky, Romy Rosemont
1983 "Wake Up Yo Tinheads!" Taylor Abbot, Mark Gunnion, Tammyi Hinz, Chris Heuben, Sue Klein, Ellen Kohrman, Mark Lancaster, Michael Simon
1982 "‘Til The Cows Come Home...Where are Those Damn Cows?" Steve Beavers, Rob Chaskin, John Goodrich, Chris Hueben, Mark Lancaster, Laura Matalon, Sarah Partridge, Susan Wapner
1981 "Candy From Strangers" Bekka Eaton, John Goodrich, Mark Lancaster, Bill Lopatto, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Markowitz, Ken Marks, Rod McLachlan, Sandy Snyder, Larry Shanker - Piano
1980 "Ten Against the Empire" Paul Barrosse, John Goodrich, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Rod McLaughlin, Michael Markowitz, Ken Marks, Dana Olsen, Rush Pearson, Judy Pruitt, Larry Shanker - Piano
1979 "...But is it Art?" Bill Aiken, Paul Barrosse, Winnie Freedman, Meryl Friedman, John Goodrich, Barb Guarino, Althea Haropulos, Dana Olsen, Rush Pearson, Larry Shanker - Piano
1978 "In Search of the Ungnome" Paul Barrosse, Jerry Franklin, Shelly Goldstein, Kyle T. Heffner, Ken Marks, Dana Olsen, Rush Pearson, Tina Rosenberg, Bill Wronski, Larry Shanker - Piano
1977 "North By Northwestern" Peter Bales, Betsy Fink, Janie Fried, Kyle Hefner, Jeff Lupetin, Cindy Milstein, Brad Mott, Dana Olsen, Suzie Plaksin, Keith Reddin, Tom Virtue, Allison Burnett.
1976 "Spirit, My Ass" Dusty Kay, Peter Bales, Betsy Fink, Jeff Lupetin, Alice Tell, Stew Figa, Kyle Heffner, Keith Reddin
1975 "What Did You Expect?" Carol Appleby, Mike Bonner, Eloise Jane Coopersmith, Betsy Fink, Thomas Fitzgerald, Wendy Gajewski, Neal Gold, David Garrett, Michelle Holmes, Roy Alan Hine, Curtis Katz, Laurie Karon, Kathy Kirshenbaum, Dusty Kay, Rick Kotrba, Kitty Knecht, Charlie Lucci, Jeff Lupetin, Brad Mott, Jane McClary, Lisa Nesselson, Bill Nuss, Karen Alison Pepper, Keith Reddin, Scott Rothburd, Wendy Taucher
1974 "Just in Time" The Company: Terri Blum, Devan Carter, Bob Chimbel, Sue Cibrario, Carol Cling, Sue Devero, Ken Elliott, Ron Ensel, Meredith Freeman, Jonathan Fox, Debbie Gaber, Wendy Gajewski, Nancy Gordon, Sandy Grimsley, Holly Hartle, Bill Hindin, Steve Humphrey, Marla Jones, Randy Kaplan, Robbie Karnofsky, Dusty Kay, Rick Kotrba, Jerry Larkin, Josh Lazar, Barb Mallorie, Kevin McDermott, Wendy Nadler, Bill Nuss, Rod Oram, Alan Perkins, Russ Pishnery, Tom Reese, Sandy Richens, Patti Rubin, Debbie Sauer, Joe Schuster, Suzanne Sciez, Obie Story, Wendy Taucher, Jeaninee Tortelli, Lisa Wershaw. Producers/Creators Paul Warshauer and Josh Lazar. Director Jeff Wilson. The Orchestra consisted of Daryl Stehlic, Dave Boruff, Mark Running, Benjy Stemple, Bruce Reed, Malcolm McDonald, Susie Fox, Peter Kallish, Kevin Hosten, Mike Privitera, Janet Steidl, Harvey Hubcap, and George Lisle.
- The Daily Northwestern. Oct 8, 1973. line feed character in
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- "The Daily Northwestern". Feb 21, 1974.
- The Daily Northwestern. April 16, 1974. Missing or empty
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- The Daily Northwestern. January 15, 1982. Missing or empty