68th-annual Dolphin Show ready to debut

Lauren Mogannam

Sitting comfortably on a couch in the basement of Cahn Auditorium, Andrea Hochkeppel just finished singing a musical number she has rehearsed at least 60 times over the last three months for the 2010 Dolphin Show production of Parade. The Communication senior is waiting to return to the stage while other cast members sprint back and forth, run up and down stairs and hurry to get onstage in time for their entrance.

In the past couple of weeks, the building on the corner of Emerson and Sheridan has become home to Hochkeppel and about 150 other students who have been working in preparation for the 68th Annual Dolphin Show.

“It is just an amazing piece of student theater,” Hochkeppel said. “The product that you get is just something amazing.”

Although the Dolphin Show debuted in 1940 as a carnival fundraiser for the men’s swimming team, it has evolved into the largest student-produced musical in the nation. This year’s show will run for two weekends, opening Jan. 22.

Because last year’s production of The Wizard of Oz was so successful, this year’s director and producers chose a more obscure musical with a significant plot, said Jamie Lynn White, a Communication junior and one of the show’s three executive producers.

Parade, written by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, relates the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man wrongly accused of assaulting and killing a factory employee in Georgia in 1914. Suffering a brief 85-performance run on Broadway from 1998 to 1999, Parade was a surprising selection, said Leah Harris, assistant business producer.

“The choice is unique and not so obvious,” the Communication sophomore said. “It is not a recognized musical by 99 percent of the world.”

Even though the producers were confident in their selection, they hope the community is receptive to a musical with a darker theme, said Tom Casserly, one of the show’s executive producers.

“After last year’s Wizard of Oz success, we hope this year we can bring in the same amount of people,” the Communication junior said.

The Dolphin Show will also utilize new forms of advertising, White said. Next week, advertisements for Parade will be on display in SafeRide vehicles, she said. The Dolphin Show purchased eight plastic covers to hang fliers on the back of the cars’ front seats, White said.

“We are the pilot group for advertising in SafeRides,” she said. “If it all goes well, it will become advertising space for student groups.”

Although it has been a long road to opening night, producers and cast members said it has been a valuable experience. The production has allowed participants to explore new forms of representation while addressing important issues, said Zachary Baer, an executive producer.

“This year we (took) an artistic leap with the story we presented,” the Communication senior said. “The most powerful thing is that it is a true story. It is unimaginable, but part of American history.”[email protected]