The Waa-Mu team plans for 90th annual show

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Courtesy of The Waa-Mu Show

Waa-Mu’s 89th Zoom production “State of the Art.” 2020-21 members are currently preparing for this May’s show.

Yiming Fu, Reporter

Amid the uncertainty of a global pandemic, The Waa-Mu Show, Northwestern University’s musical written, arranged and produced by students, is charging toward its 90th annual show this May.

“I’m going to throw a fit if I don’t get a senior Waa-Mu in Cahn Auditorium, personally,” music director and Bienen and Medill senior Ezri Killeen said. “But that will be out of everybody’s control.”

Students typically perform Waa-Mu in Cahn Auditorium, but last May, the cast presented its 89th annual show live on Zoom. Members had to quickly restructure the show in March when the pandemic hit.

Communication senior Jessica Nekritz, a co-chair for this year’s show, said everyone working on Waa-Mu last spring set the bar for NU’s Zoom theatre scene.

“They really embraced the challenge,” Nekritz said. “They were like, ‘We don’t know what we’re doing, and we have to figure out how to do this.’ Most of us had never used Zoom in our lives, which is crazy six months later, looking back.”

Nekritz said last year’s show did “a beautiful job” — a testament to the strength of Waa-Mu’s community.

This year’s show is currently in the writing process. A 16-member writing board was chosen in the summer, and four members were chosen to be writing coordinators leading the team. They selected a pitch for the show’s general plot in August.

Writing coordinator and Communication junior Bennett Petersen said the writing board meets once every week for two hours to freely generate ideas for characters, relationships, motives and plotlines.

“A term that’s been thrown around is, ‘throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks,’” Petersen said.

He said the coordinators meet weekly to funnel the writers’ ideas into more concrete decisions. The team aims to finish writing the show’s outline by the end of Fall Quarter.

Killeen said she’s not sure which format this year’s show will take.

“Literally at every step of the way, somebody’s been like, ‘OK and then, if it’s in a Zoom format, could we still do X?’” Killeen said.

Nekritz said Waa-Mu’s community sets the organization apart. She hopes freshmen and students who may not be interested in performing can also find a home within the organization, she said.

Waa-Mu is hosting events for students looking to be involved, and Nekritz said the team has planned game nights, movie viewings and other social gatherings to foster relationships within the organization.

Even though Waa-Mu members can’t work together in person, Petersen said it has been extremely fun to be back in the same “room” with everyone else.

“The ability to meet with the other writing coordinators, and meet with the rest of the writing team every week, and just be able to talk about stories and talk about characters and things that we care about has been a driving force for me,” Petersen said. “Not only in Waa-Mu, but in school this quarter. It’s been a highlight of my week, every week.”

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Twitter: @yimingfuu

Related stories:
Ezri Killeen creates documentary chronicling 89th Waa-Mu Show
89th Waa Mu Show “State of the Art” to be Performed for Select Audience Over Zoom

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