The Waa-Mu Show
The Waa-Mu Show (pronounced "wah mew") is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization within Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, that produces student written, orchestrated, produced, and performed original musical theatre work every year. The song lyrics, script, and music are developed in a series of classes. It is the institution's longest standing theatrical tradition and is held in Cahn Auditorium on Northwestern's campus. This tradition began as a musical revue, showcasing several different student-written Northwestern-inspired vignettes connected by one single theme. Over the last six years, the Waa-Mu show has evolved into an original full-length musical.
- 1 History
- 2 Statements of the Organization
- 3 People
- 4 Organization
- 5 Recent Performances
- 6 List of Shows
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The first Waa-Mu show took place in 1929. A senior Northwestern student Joseph W. Miller and his classmate Darrell Ware wrote the script and staged the college musical comedy that became "The Waa-Mu Show," the first co-educational college musical show. The Women's Athletic Association (WAA) and the Men's Union (MU) collaborated to put on the first show. The name "Waa-Mu" is derived from the synthesis of the two groups' acronyms.
The WAA had been staging popular all-female musical comedies since 1912; the MU had presented less successful all-male comic operas for a number of years prior to 1929. Both men's and women's shows had been losing money and Miller and Ware raised $1,200 by borrowing $5 a piece from interested students to finance the first show. It also was Miller's and Ware's idea to feature both male and female students in their premiere production. At first, the female WAA committee was reluctant about sharing the stage with the male Mu members, but they eventually agreed to combine talents. The premiere show that Miller and Ware collaborated on was Good Morning Glory. The Daily Northwestern wrote, "Campus interest is the highest yet for any single dramatic activity in University history." This review prompted the producers to begin formulating and writing the following year's show. Walter Kerr was the principal writer for the 1936 musical revue entitled It Goes to Show. Kerr graduated the following year and eventually become a famous theatre critic for the New York Times. After graduating in 1929, Joe Miller stayed at Northwestern to do graduate work in personnel administration, and Darrell Ware went to Hollywood to write screenplays. In 1931 Northwestern president Walter Dill Scott offered Miller a position on the university's staff as Freshman Advisor and Waa-Mu Director.
In 1938, Waa-Mu board members were not pleased with that year's student-written script. Instead, they staged George Gershwin's musical Of Thee I Sing, about a presidential candidate who promises to bring more love to the White House. Actor Tony Randall (who was then known as Leonard Rosenberg), portrayed a boisterous Texas congressman in the production. Only three times in Waa-Mu's history has non-original material been presented; in 1935 with Ray Henderson's musical Good News, in 1938, with George Gershwin's musical Of Thee I Sing, and in 1993 with Leonard Bernstein's musical On the Town.
Waa-Mu went on hiatus during the World War II years, but was re-launched in 1946. During the three-year break, profits from previous Waa-Mu productions were invested in war bonds. Miller directed the Waa-Mu Show until 1975; his last show was Quick Change. He retired on August 31, 1975 and died in 1979. Tom Roland succeeded Miller as the second director of the Waa-Mu productions in 1976. Occasionally, Waa-Mu has been performed off-campus. The show traveled to Chicago several times after its Evanston run, most notably in 1931 (at the Civic Theatre in Chicago) and 1933. And renowned orchestra leader Fred Waring played original Waa-Mu songs on the radio in 1951.
Waa-Mu performances have been presented at Cahn Auditorium since its 1941 production, Wait A Minute, premiering on the new stage the same year that Scott Hall was completed. Before performances began in Cahn Auditorium, Waa-Mu productions were held at and around the Evanston area, at the New Evanston Theatre and the National College of Education.
Statements of the Organization
Mission Statement: The Waa-Mu Show aims to share stories that engage the hearts and minds of Northwestern's campus as well as that of the greater community. The Waa-Mu Show aspires to give students an unparalleled experience that prepares them to lead and advance the world of musical theatre.
Values Statement: The 2017-2018 Co-Chairs aim to facilitate a world class educational opportunity in the writing, performance, and administration of new musical theatre. In doing so, we also strive to foster an inclusive and collaborative community that allows students to learn from one another, while making memories that will last a lifetime.
Stephen Schellhardt is the current director of the Waa-Mu show and has been in the role since 2018.
Program Head: Stephen Schellhardt
Director: Stephen Schellhardt
Music Director: Ryan T. Nelson
Co-Chairs: Gabby Green, Ziare Paul-Emile, Alex Rothfield, Lindsay Whisler
Accessibility, Inclusion, and Diversity Co-Directors: Emma Giffone & Amy Prochaska
Alumni Relations Co-Directors: Gaby Godinez & Mia Navarez
Community Programming Co-Directors: Alexa Moster & Jon Toussaint
Development Director: Mia Lennon
Digital Media Director: Eli Cohen
Events Director: Natalie Welch
Historian: Nolan Robinson
Marketing Director: Theo Janke-Furman
Merchandise: Hope Banach
Production Manager: Jessica Nekritz
Promotions Director: Emmett Smith
Public Relations Director: Olivia Worley
Treasurer: Leo Jared Scheck
Waa-2 Co-Directors: Peter Carroll, Danielle Kerr, Ruchir Khazanchi, Lydia Weir
Executive Team Members:
Richer Khazanchi, Jasmine Sharma, Rachel Khutorsky, Aubrey Leaman, Elvan Babuna, Gaby Godinez, Hannah Hakim, Alexa Moster, Jessica Nekritz, Vy Duong, Shealyn Abbott, Theo Janke-Furman, Jillian Korey, Emmet Smith, Josh Krivan, Madi Hart, Stella Cole, Jake Larimer, Hope Banach, & Eli Cohen
All shows from 1929-1975 Directed by Joe W. Miller
All shows from 1976-1990 Directed by Tom Roland
All shows from 1991-1993 Co-Directed by Tom Roland and Dominic Missimi
All shows from 1994-2010 Directed by Dominic Missimi
All shows from 2011–2012 Directed by David H. Bell
2013 Directed by Michael Goldberg
All shows from 2014–2017 Directed by David H. Bell
All shows from 2018–Present Directed by Stephen Schellhardt
- Claude Akins
- Warren Beatty
- Karen Black
- Jeff Blumenkrantz
- Zach Braff
- Nancy Dussault
- Gregg Edelman
- Penny Fuller
- George Furth
- Frank Galati
- Ana Gasteyer
- Larry Grossman
- Charlton Heston
- Laura Innes
- Brian d'Arcy James
- Cloris Leachman
- Shelley Long
- Paul Lynde
- Garry Marshall
- Jenny Powers
- Tony Randall
- Charlotte Rae
- Tony Roberts
- Kate Shindle
Several different positions and sub-groups with distinct responsibilities exist within the institution to ease the process of creating an original musical each year. They include:
Program Head: A staff member of the Theatre & Interpretation Center who leads the creation process and makes all final decisions. The Program Head is typically the director of the production as well.
Co-Chairs: The student leaders of the organization who work alongside the Program Head to make decisions about creative and administrative matters.
Head Writers: The student leaders who are in charge of generating and combining material to form a cohesive script for the show.
Executive Board: A group of students who work under the Co-Chairs to handle all administrative, financial and organizational needs.
Creating the Musical Class: A large group of students enrolled in a winter class who generate material for the show including: the script, songs, and lyrics.
Orchestrating the Musical Class: A group of students enrolled in a winter class who generate orchestrations for the show; many of whom go on to join Team Music.
Team Music: A group of students led by the Music Director that creates all of the orchestrations for the songs generated in the Creating the Musical class as well as the incidental music and overture.
Another Way West
The 2016 performance was titled Another Way West. The story follows a female researcher, accompanied by her nieces and nephews, on the Oregon Trail searching for her late ancestor. This show merges the journeys of both the researcher and her ancestor on the Oregon Trail.
In 2015, the students put on Gold, based on the 1936 Olympics. The plot centered around journalists sent to report about the Olympics, specifically focusing on the US Basketball Team, the US Swim Team, and the US Track and Field Team. Opening night for the show was May 1, 2015.
Double Feature at Hollywood and Vine, an adaptation of Twelfth Night
Inspired by the Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night, the 2014 Waa-Mu Show was Double Feature at Hollywood and Vine. The protagonist, Viola, disguises herself as a man in order to find fame as an actor in the 1930s. Opening night for the show was May 2, 2014.
The performance in 2013 entitled, Flying Home, combined the ideas of three very well known productions, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and The Wizard of Oz. The main theme of this production is about adolescents leaving home and developing throughout college. Opening night for this performance was May 3, 2013.
List of Shows
|2018||Manhattan Miracle||Maxwell Beer, Kaja Burke-Williams, Sarah Ohlson, Andrew Restieri|
|2017||Beyond Belief: A Superhero Story||Jessie Jennison, Charlotte Morris, Eric Peters, Justin Tepper|
|2016||Another Way West||Myrna Conn, Fergus Inder, Charlie Oh, Elizabeth Romero|
|2015||Gold||Hannah Dunn, Kylie Mullins, Max Rein|
|2014||Double Feature At Hollywood And Vine||Ryan Bernsten, Ryan Garson, Desiree Staples|
|2013||Flying Home||Jack Mitchell, Jesse Rothschild, Ed Wasserman|
|2012||Off The Map||Jon Harrison, Rachel Shapiro, Patrick Sulken|
|2011||What's Next||Melissa Lynch, Liz Olanoff|
|2010||Keeping Time||RB Embleton, Lindsay Powell|
|2009||One For The Books||Julia Beck, Kaitlin Fine, Cara Rifkin, Eugenio Vargas|
|2008||Skylines||Kristin Johnson, Maureen Rohn|
|2007||The Club||Amanda Krieg, Justin Mann|
|2006||Jubilee!||Antonette Balestreri, Liz Kimball, Charlie Siebert|
|2005||Waiting In The Wings||Alan Schmuckler, Claire Wilmoth, Jarrod Zimmerman|
|2004||POMP And Circumstance||Kenneth Ferrone, Michael Mahler, Jessica Scholl|
|2003||This Just In...||Amber Makalous, Christine Mild, Joe Schenck|
|2002||Are We There Yet?||Andrew Hotz, Emily Price, Kevin Vortmann|
|2001||Sorry, We're Booked||Jen Bender, Dan Brintz|
|2000||Past Perfect Future Tense||Mark Ledbetter, Anne E. Mannal|
|1999||New York, NU York||Matt Dudley, Kate Shindle, Kate Strohbehn|
|1998||Stay Tuned!||Meredith McDonough, Ian Roth|
|1997||All Grown Up!||Dan Lipton, Randy Meyer|
|1996||Timeless||Sloan Just, Kristofer McNeeley|
|1995||Rites Of Spring||Zeena Hamir, Jordan G. Neiman|
|1994||Lost & Found||Chad Borden, Matthew Meltzer, Alison Sneegas|
|1993||On The Town*||Chad Borden, Jason Cochran, Jennifer Gordon|
|1992||Hello, Big Time||Keith Everett, Richard Segall, Julie Williams|
|1991||Sign Me Up||Lisa Cavallari, Thomas Hoegh, Becca Kaufman, Matthew Mailman, Eric Saiet|
|1990||It's About Time||Thomas Hoegh, Brian James, Jody Plotkin, Brayer Teague, Todd Wadhams|
|1989||Throw Me A Line!||Brian Elliott, Stephen Gundersheim, Brian James, Jody Plotkin, Amanda Rogers|
|1988||What's In A Game?||Scott Benjaminson, Mark Ledogar, Lori Longstreth|
|1987||With A Twist||Martin Drobac, Laverne McKinnon, Scott Zacher|
|1986||Star-Craving Mad||John E. Kolb, Robert R. Walther|
|1985||Sumthing's Up||Richard Feldman, Janet Ponsiglione|
|1984||Suitable For Framing||Paul F. Burtis, Douglas T. Toth|
|1983||Wake The Neighbors, Phone The Dog||Thaddeus A. Gentry, Dale S. Rieling|
|1982||Out On A Whim||Richard Heimler, Jodi Weinstein|
|1981||To The Memories||Fred Hanson, Jon Nakagawa|
|1980||Gimme A Break||John Burley, Nina Skriloff|
|1979||Cover To Cover||Winifred Freedman, Johan Sauer|
|1978||Wake Me At Eight||Robert Banks, Betsy Greene|
|1977||Wild Onions||Betsy Greene, Michael Higgins|
|1976||That's The Spirit||Philip Curley, Susan Socolowski|
|1975||Quick Change||Erik Haagensen, Suzanne Thomas|
|1974||Keep In Touch||Anne Arkin, Bryan England|
|1973||Kicks||Kathryn Blind, Daniel Connolly|
|1972||72 Flavors||Denise Jarrett, William J. Wilson|
|1971||Thanks A Lot||Estelle Danish, Andrew Harris (stopped 75% student ticket plan)|
|1970||Booster Shot||Sandra Holland, Michael Meagher|
|1969||Present Tense||Murray Dawson, Barbara Lehner|
|1968||The Natives Are Restless||Frank Corbin, Barbara Klages|
|1967||You'll Get Used To It||Louis Magor, Marilyn McGredy|
|1966||Strings & Things||Patricia Baggs, Dwight Frindt|
|1965||Promise Not To Tell||Edward Euler, Judith Pinkerton|
|1964||Something In The Wind||Sue Ramaker, Robert Strunk|
|1963||Mud In Your Eye||Michael Griffith, Carole Shirreffs|
|1962||Signs Of Life||Robert Bonges, Karla Herbold|
|1961||Don't Make A Scene||Bruce Burmester, Virginia Jung|
|1960||Among Friends||Elizabeth Wehde, William J. White|
|1959||Good Grief||Glenna Arnold, John Gerber|
|1958||Sing No Evil||Richard Kissel, Carolyn Robson|
|1957||Caught In The Act||Carol Beachler, Ronald Church|
|1956||Silver Jubilee||Jon Larson, Ann Palmer|
|1955||High Time||Joyce Lemon, Jeremy Wilson|
|1954||See Here||Robert Magee, Jane Taylor|
|1953||Reach For The Sky||Rosetta Beamer, Allan Bowermaster|
|1952||Taxi, Please||Leona Iwaniec, G. Allan West|
|1951||That Reminds Me||Carol Anderson, William G. Whitney|
|1950||Look Who's Talking||Jane Harr, John F. Hayford|
|1949||What's The Rush||Nancy Henninger, Cliff Mezey|
|1948||See How They Run||Walt Kemp, A. Rae Womble|
|1947||Break The News||Pete Peterson, Juanita Richards|
|1946||Here We Go Again||Doris Helm, Max Myover|
|1943, 1944, 1945||(No Production)||Waa-Mu suspends performances during World War II years. Previous show profits invested in war bonds.|
|1942||Wish You Were Here||Bev Coffman, Dick Jager|
|1941||Wait A Minute||William Barr, Janice Raymond|
|1940||Here's Your Party||Don J. Ramaker, Frances F. Whittemore (adapted the revue format officially)|
|1939||Guess Again||Al Hickox, Ruth Marcus|
|1938||Of Thee I Sing*||Betsy Garrison, George Kemp|
|1937||Don't Look Now||Robert W. Grant Jr., Ruth Hoagland|
|1936||It Goes To Show||Clay Hoffer, Frank Seyl|
|1935||Good News*||Robert Goman, Zaida Hutchins|
|1934||Sweet Music||Virginia Cleaveland, Charles Southward|
|1933||Hats Off||Robert McManus, Virginia Stone|
|1932||Step This Way||Eloise Barclay, Howard Packard|
|1931||Many Thanks||Jack Leach, Avis Lundahl|
|1930||Whoa There||Ethel Finn, Preston Weir (sold to Universal Pictures; Life Begins At College)|
|1929||Good Morning Glory||Lois Stewart, Darrell Ware|
Shows with (*) denote previously produced and non-student written material.
- Petlicki, Myrna. "Northwestern's Waa-Mu show takes to the Oregon Trail". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- "Waa-Mu Show". waamushow.org. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- "The 86th Annual Waa-Mu Show | Northwestern University School of Communication". www.communication.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- Moore, Judy (March 29, 2001). "Waa-Mu: Northwestern's long-running version of Star Search". Northwestern Observer. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
- Morledge, Kirk (1980). To the memories: A history of the Northwestern University Waa-Mu Show, 1929-1980. Evanston, Ill. : The University.
- Choi, Matthew. "84th Waa-Mu Show set to open Friday". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- Rense, Sarah. "Waa-Mu celebrates 83 years by breaking some traditions, honoring others". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
- Caiola, Sammy. "Waa-Mu's 'Flying Home' whisks seniors off with fantastic style". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2016-10-21.