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Waa-Mu Show sets a romantic comedy in the City of Lights

Paris is the setting for the musical “Romance en Route,” which runs April 28-May 7 at Cahn Auditorium

Northwestern University’s famed Waa-Mu Show returns to Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., on the Evanston campus with a romantic comedy exploring how love can transcend boundaries. “Romance en Route” premieres April 28 and runs through May 7, 2023.

“Romance en Route” follows six romantics on a journey through love, loss, heartbreak and self-discovery in the City of Lights. By a chance of fate, Eve and Xander sit next to each other on their flight from Chicago to Paris. Meanwhile, their significant others, Lexi and Jenna, are in Paris competing for a high-stakes promotion. Alongside Tristan, a flight attendant with his head in the clouds, and Matthieu, a hotel concierge and part-time cynic, the two couples meet and are forced to confront fears, doubts and unavoidable conversations. Will they find themselves — and the love they deserve — before they return home?

“This year’s production is particularly exciting because it's the first time in Waa-Mu’s history where the entire design team is made up of undergraduates,” said 2023 Waa-Mu co-chair Daniel Maton (’24). “I can’t wait for audiences to see the great work of Northwestern undergraduate designers as they transform Cahn Auditorium into the City of Lights”

The Waa-Mu Show, which the Associated Press dubbed “the greatest college show in America,” is written, composed, choreographed, designed and co-produced by more than 150 Northwestern students. In addition to Maton, the 2023 Waa-Mu co-chairs are Francis Brenner (’23), Madeline Oberle (’23) and Mitchell Huntley (’23). Leading the writing process are writing coordinators Kailey Morand (’25), Reva Sangal (’24) and Lena Moore (’25). 

“This year’s story is centered around youthful self-discovery, and the uncovering of what role a relationship serves in one’s life,” Morand said. “I hope audiences go home believing in love, while also believing in their own value outside of a relationship.”

Tickets are available via the Wirtz Center Website and range between $10 and $30. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday matinee performances begin at 2 p.m. Runtime is 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission.

Waa-Mu Show history

The Waa-Mu Show began in 1929 when the Women’s Athletic Association (W.A.A.) joined forces with the Men’s Union (M.U.) in a performance of original, student-written material. The show was traditionally a musical revue, consisting of Northwestern-inspired vignettes tied together by a theme. However, over the last decade, the Waa-Mu Show has evolved into an original full-length musical with book, lyrics and orchestration by students.

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.

For more information visit The Waa-Mu Show website.

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts annually mounts more than 40 productions in theater, music theater and dance. Undergraduate actors, managers and playwrights, alongside graduate actors, designers, directors and dramaturgs, collaborate on works both classic and contemporary for audiences of all ages. The center adheres to and reflects the academic mission of the University, the curricular needs of the theater and performance studies departments and the educational priorities of communication students. It exists in service to the campus and the greater community of the Metropolitan Chicago area.

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts.