Annual Waa-Mu Show brings student-written musicals to the stage


Photo courtesy of Madeline Oberle

Cast members perform in the 84th annual Waa-Mu show, “Gold.”

Joanne Haner, Assistant Photo Editor

More than 100 students work to put together the largest student-written musical in the country each year, the Waa-Mu Show.

The Waa-Mu Show will soon celebrate its 91st year in production with the murder mystery-inspired tale “A Peculiar Inheritance.” Communication sophomore Daniel Maton, who serves as a Waa-Mu co-chair, described this year’s show as “upbeat and exciting.”

“Students are writing their own musical. That’s the thing that just astounds me,” Maton said. “The idea that people were both writing an entire book as well as composing it in what is basically a couple of months was just unbelievable.”

The Waa-Mu show was founded in 1929 as a cabaret of songs intended to raise funds for the Women’s Athletic Association and Men’s Union, hence the name Waa-Mu. Over the years, the show turned into a more cohesive, full-length musical independent of its initial founding organizations.

Communication junior and co-chair Madeline Oberle said Waa-Mu made history as NU’s first co-ed theatre production. While most of NU’s theatre boards are entirely student-run and organized, the Waa-Mu Show is the only student theatre group on campus that works in collaboration with the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts.

“All of that experience is still going to be facilitated by professionals,” Oberle said. “Knowing that we have the Wirtz staff and professionals that we hire in to comment on how we can improve and what things are actually like in the real world and how we can make Waa-Mu emulate that better for students to be better prepared post-grad.”

Unlike most theatre groups on campus, Waa-Mu premieres in Cahn Auditorium, which can hold up to 1,000 people. The only other student-run show on campus that compares in scale is the Dolphin Show.

Waa-Mu also has a subdivision of first-year students known as Waa-2. These students work with the writers to help develop the show, as well as perform at events on campus or for alumni to promote the Waa-Mu Show.

Bienen and Communication junior Wes D’Alelio joined Waa-Mu as a freshman and was a member of Waa-2. He now serves as one of the show’s assistant music directors and a member of the writing team. This year, he is also the organization’s first music historian.

“Every bit of our storytelling and the inception of the idea and the structure and all the composition and all the lyrics, we can say that we did it and we did it together. And that’s really incredible,” D’Alelio said.

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