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A Longstanding Northwestern Tradition Flies Home

The 82nd Annual Waa-Mu Show, “Flying Home” runs May 3 to 10 at Cahn

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Flying Home, down the rabbit hole, over the rainbow, and straight on till morning” -- the 2013 student-written musical of Northwestern University’s Waa-Mu Show -- imagines a world in which Wonderland, Oz and Neverland collide. The journeys of fictional characters Alice, Dorothy and Wendy intersect and classic stories are woven together with a brand new fantasy twist. 

The Waa-Mu Show -- a longtime Northwestern tradition, now in its 82nd year -- is directed and choreographed by internationally renowned director and choreographer David H. Bell.

Bell, Northwestern’s Donald G. Robertson Director of Music Theatre, has been nominated for 43 Joseph Jefferson (“Jeff”) Awards and has won 11. Bell also has been nominated for London’s prestigious Laurence Olivier Award, among many other accolades. Ryan T. Nelson, the School of Communication’s music director, is the production’s conductor and music supervisor.

“Flying Home” performances take place at 8 p.m. Friday, May 3; 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 5; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9; 8 p.m. Friday, May 10; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. A special Waa-Mu alumni reception at the Celtic Knot restaurant in downtown Evanston will follow the Saturday, May 4, evening performance.

Single tickets are $10 to $30; tickets for groups of eight or more are $8 to $27 each. Tickets are available through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or

In addition, this year’s Waa-Mu team is offering a special event for all ages with “Wee-Mu 2013,” at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 5, in Cahn Auditorium. This one-hour, behind-the-scenes look at “Flying Home” will feature lights, costumes, song and dance and the cast and creative team members who will guide audiences through the steps that go into creating a brand new musical. The “Wee-Mu 2013” event is free for audience members who reserve by noon Friday, May 3, at General admission at the door is $5. 

The original full-length musical features 43 Northwestern students on stage and more than 100 others on the creative and executive teams, led by undergraduate student co-chairs Ed Wasserman, Jack Mitchell and Jesse Rothschild. Cast members are from the School of Communication, Bienen School of Music, School of Education and Social Policy and Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“Over the past 11 months, we’ve developed a story we hope is as applicable to us as college students as it is to the families and alumni that share it with us,” said Rothschild. “Working with these classic stories to create a musical that is both engaging and structurally sound has been an incredibly educational experience for our entire writing team,” added Mitchell.

“’Flying Home’ is, for us, both a celebration of this incredible Northwestern tradition and an exciting glimpse of what’s to come,” said Wasserman.

The Waa-Mu production began as a joint effort of the University’s Women’s Athletic Association (WAA) and Men’s Union (MU) during the 1928-29 academic year. It soon garnered a reputation as one of “the greatest college shows in America” and has been an important launching pad for many respected performers.

Past cast members include Walter Kerr in the 1930s; Claude Akins, Sheldon Harnick, Cloris Leachman, Paul Lynde, Charlotte Rae and Tony Randall in the 1940s; Warren Beatty, Penny Fuller and Garry Marshall in the 1950s; Karen Black, Frank Galati, Ann-Margret and Tony Roberts in the 1960s; Laura Innes and Shelley Long in the 1970s; Gregg Edelman, Ana Gasteyer, and Megan Mullally in the 1980s; Zach Braff, Brian d’Arcy James, Heather Headley, Jason Moore and Kate Shindle in the 1990s and, more recently, Jenny Powers.

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