Waa-Mu members hold workshops in local schools

Ally Mutnick, Assistant Campus Editor

Students from Northwestern’s Waa-Mu Show, one of the largest student-written musicals in the country, are now leading free musical workshops at local elementary and middle schools.

The workshops will teach students in the third through eighth grades how to compose music and lyrics, tell stories and use improvisation in their shows, according to a University news release.

“It’s incredible to see how quickly these youngsters become invested in the work we share with them,” Jesse Rothschild, a Communication senior and 2013 Waa-Mu co-chair, said in the release.

The classes began in February at Attea Middle School in Glenview, Ill., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School in Evanston and Marie Murphy Middle School in Wilmette. Waa-Mu has plans to extend the program to other schools in Evanston this year, the release said.

The students use skills developed in writing and creating the Waa-Mu show to teach the elementary and middle school students, according to the release. Their workshops are customized for each age group. Younger students work on song structure while older students work on developing stories. For all ages, Waa-Mu members stress the value of hard work.

“Our workshops for young students are not only designed to build excitement for the upcoming production,” Bienen senior Carrie Seavoy, the Waa-Mu community programming director, said in the release. “They’re also an opportunity to help students understand that with a lot of effort and new knowledge, they, too, can create something exciting.”

This year the Waa-Mu show is “Flying Home: Down the Rabbit Hole, Over the Rainbow and Straight On Till Morning.” It will run from May 3 to 13 in Cahn Auditorium.

The Waa-Mu show’s first production was in 1929. This year’s show combines “The Wizard of Oz” with “Alice in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan.”

“It imagines a world in which Wonderland, Oz and Neverland collide,” said Ed Wasserman, a Communication senior and Waa-Mu member.

In its 84-year history, Waa-Mu helped several famous NU alumni get their start. Actors, writers and set designers have gone on to work for shows like Saturday Night Live, NBC sitcoms like “Will and Grace” and “Parks and Recreation,” and Broadway shows like “The Lion King,” the release said.

— Ally Mutnick