Diving into the Dolphin Show, the largest student-produced musical in the country


Joanne Haner/The Daily Northwestern

Cast members of the 79th annual Dolphin Show perform a song in “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Joanne Haner, Assistant Photo Editor

The Dolphin Show, which dates back to 1939, is the largest student-produced musical in the country.

The group recently celebrated its 79th show with the production of “Merrily We Roll Along.” The Dolphin Show originally served as a fundraiser for a Northwestern men’s swim group, and the show premiered in a pool. In 1963, the show shifted out of the pool, and, in 1970, onto the stage.

Communication senior Simran Deokule served as this year’s artistic producer. She said the Dolphin Show has been able to grow in size, scale and accomplishments throughout the organization’s history.

“We’re definitely looking to push traditions and expand our reach,” Deokule said.

Deokule joined the Dolphin Show her sophomore year as the organization’s first director of accessibility, inclusion and diversity. Earlier this year, the Dolphin Show held a design workshop to discuss how the show’s designs and costumes would be inclusive for all, according to Communication senior and Business Producer Owen Kiley. The organization also added an accessibility team to their group this year.

The Dolphin Show has recently pulled away from “Golden Age” musicals like “Hello, Dolly” and “Guys and Dolls,” which were produced in the 1940s and 1950s. Deokule said this allowed the Dolphin Show to more accurately represent and portray the student body, cast and crew.

Every year, more than 150 undergraduates across schools come together to put on the annual production. This was Communication senior and Director Nora Geffen’s first Dolphin Show. She said the variety of students that participate in the show is part of what makes the community so special.

“It’s just a very cool meeting point where people who are learning all kinds of different things all over Northwestern bring those skills into one place,” Geffen said. “It feels really amazing and like a very huge profound thing to be doing.”

Unlike most other student productions on campus, the Dolphin Show premieres in the 900-seat Cahn Auditorium. Geffen said the opportunity to work as part of a production that operates on a large scale and funding allows her to focus more on the art of the show.

The Dolphin Show also maintains ties to its vast alumni network. Deokule said the connections are extremely beneficial and unique to the Dolphin Show.

“You’re not going to get our spirit of fostering and mentorship. Our professional-scale production is unparalleled, I would say, from any other student organization on this campus,” Deokule said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @joanne_n_h

Related Stories:
Captured: “Merrily We Roll Along” marks 79th annual Dolphin Show
The Dolphin Show prepares for first in-person audience since 2019
The Dolphin Show to host Inclusive Design Workshop