Waa-Mu opens annual show, features stories about NU life

Sammy Caiola

The 2011 Waa-Mu show, “What’s Next?”, which premiered Friday, follows a group of NU students from Wildcat Welcome Week to graduation, featuring major events like Rock the Beach, fraternity rush and Dillo Day.

The 80th annual student-written and student-produced musical also features numbers about studying abroad, getting trapped in the library during the “snowpocalypse” and finding a postgraduate job.

Ticket sales have been going well and Cahn Auditorium was nearly full Saturday night, said Nichole Cooper, marketing and communications manager for the Theatre and Interpretation Center. She said the fact that the show is in its 80th year and is being directed by renowned faculty member David H. Bell may be contributing to the large turnout.

Though the show’s website includes a disclaimer about strong language, Communication senior Liz Olanoff, Waa-Mu co-chair, said the reactions have been positive.

For both matinee performances, senior citizens were bused in from a nursing home in Lincolnwood, Ill.. Elaine Bogetz, a Lincolnwood resident, said she has seen the Waa-Mu show for the past 15 years and gives the current production high praise.

“The show was wonderful,” Bogetz said. “But I’m disappointed there was no tap dancing. The music was beautiful, and it’s a very talented group of students.”

The Friday night performance was dedicated to Michelle Nicastro, a Waa-Mu alumna who passed away this summer after a battle with cancer, Cooper said.

Justin Schuman, a Communication sophomore and cast member, said the dedication made him think about the show from a broader perspective.

“I realized how much bigger than us Waa-Mu really is,” Schuman said. “It’s not just this show. It’s the 79 before us that led us here. (Bell) has sprung new life into it, and I can’t wait to see where it leads.”

Rehearsals for the show started the first Monday of Spring Quarter and continued until opening night. The cast was composed of 42 undergraduates of different years and majors.

Olanoff, who has worked on and written for the show for the past four years, said being a member of the cast while being a co-chair is “a blessing for Spring Quarter of senior year” because she gets to work with her closest friends.

She said this year’s show is special because it relates directly to NU experiences, and audience members will identify with certain characters over the course of the production.

“It seems that we succeeded in touching on the NU experience, and that’s all I could have hoped to hear from anyone who saw the show,” Olanoff said. “You can feel the energy and understanding that comes from people who have shared the same campus, even 20 or 30 years ago.”

Last year’s Waa-Mu production, “Keeping Time,” was a musical about time travel. SESP junior Devynn Patterson said the content was better this year.

“I like the new format,” Patterson said. “I like that there’s a continuous story line and that everything related to our own experiences.”

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