The Waa-Mu Show to present “The Secret of Camp Elliott” virtually June 9 through 20


Photo courtesy of Jordan Mangi

Promotional photo for “The Secret of Camp Elliott.” The “Waa-Movie” will premiere virtually on June 9.

Olivia Alexander, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

The 90th annual Waa-Mu Show is a supernatural mystery set in the year 1977.

Written, composed, choreographed and produced by over 100 Northwestern students, the original musical follows friends at summer camp and centers around a love story between two young girls. Communication senior and Waa-Mu co-chair Pallas Gutierrez, a former Daily staffer, said they are very proud to see the romance play out in the show.

While members of the LGBTQ+ community are often involved in musical theatre, Gutierrez said shows don’t always depict their stories on stage.

“It was really amazing to get to show those stories on stage, and even more amazing to get to do a story about two women, in particular, because a lot of musical theatre writing is dominated by men,” they said. “Women don’t always get the best storylines (and) the best characters, so that has been really exciting for us to have our two romantic leads to be women.”

Gutierrez also enjoyed the supernatural element of the show and its ‘70s-inspired music. They said it’s been wonderful to see the show evolve since it was first pitched last summer.

The plot also touches on the importance of close relationships, according to Communication senior Jessica Nekritz, another Waa-Mu co-chair.

“It’s really a story about community, friendship, togetherness and the power of the community, which is the story we were really excited about when we have been so far apart (in the) last year,” Nekrtiz said.

Communication junior and writing coordinator Brandon Acosta said the writing team’s goal was to ensure every single writer had a voice and saw some of their work in the final product — and he’s proud that it came true.

Acosta said writers were intentional about the tone they wanted to convey throughout the production.

“We want people to watch this like it’s a Disney Channel Original Movie,” Acosta said. “It’s just fun — it has fun music, it has characters with real themes that are very meaningful, but in a way that’s not… a big hard piece that’s really hard to think about or really complicated to engage with.”

Working on the show also involved connecting with alumni from the organization’s extensive network, Gutierrez said. The show held an alumni reunion, and team members said they had the opportunity to speak with NU students from the 1950s and 1960s and hear how the organization shaped their college experiences.

This year’s production will be a “Waa-Movie,” in which a professional editor will cut together content that actors film independently. Acosta said the team is disappointed they’re not able to see the musical on stage in Cahn Auditorium, like usual, but he is proud to present the production virtually.

“I’ve never been able to work on something like this before, and I doubt I’ll ever work on something like this again,” Acosta said. “It’s a stage production, but it’s also a movie, and that’s definitely going to be a landmark milestone in the history of this organization.”

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Twitter: @oliviagalex

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