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78th Annual Waa-Mu Show a Musical Page Turner May 1-10

"Waa-Mu 2009: One for the Books" will feature original songs, dances and comedy sketches based on timeless tales.

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April 20, 2009 | by Judy Moore
Watch more on the making of the 2007 Waa-Mu Show as produced for News@Northwestern, the University's television news magazine.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- "Waa-Mu 2009: One for the Books," Northwestern's University's 78th edition of the Waa-Mu show, will feature original songs, dances and comedy sketches based on the timeless tales of princesses, the adventures of Curious George, the trials of Holden Caulfield, and the poetry of e.e. cummings and Walt Whitman.

Performances of "Waa-Mu 2009: One for the Books" will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, May 1;

2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 3; 8 p.m. Thursday, May 7; 8 p.m. Friday, May 8; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 9; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 10, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston campus.

Under the direction of School of Communication Theatre Professor Dominic Missimi, this year's Waa-Mu show will feature special guest appearances by such beloved fictional characters as Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Prince Charming, Rapunzel, the elusive Waldo, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Tarzan and Jane and many others. Missimi has directed Waa-Mu for the past 16 years, not including the two additional years he co-directed the show with former theatre faculty member and longtime Waa-Mu director Tom Roland.

The 2009 production is among the most colorful, costumed and choreographed in recent years. In keeping with the show's title, the set will feature a gigantic and expansive shelf of books to create the ambiance of a university library. It is recommended for audiences aged 10 and up.

Waa-Mu is once again offering the traditional Mother's Day pre-show brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Sunday, May 10, at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in downtown Evanston, hosted by Missimi and featuring entertainment by members of the 2009 Waa-Mu cast.

"One for the Books" is the second show in Waa-Mu history to feature a "book" theme.

"We decided to do another show about books because there are so many interesting characters that are costumed," said Missimi. "It also was a good jumping board that sent us in a variety of literary and university-oriented directions."

"Every year Waa-Mu is a completely original show with music and lyrics by Northwestern students," added Missimi. "Some musicals take up to seven years to get to the stage, and we do it in only six months. This year's show features 33 rehearsed and orchestrated skits, which is miraculous, when you consider that the students are attending classes during the day and only have a four-week rehearsal period from start to finish, a shorter period than any other Northwestern production on campus."

Among the highlights of this year's show will be a "Tap for Dummies" number choreographed by David Bell, an associate professor of music theatre at Northwestern's School of Communication and an internationally renowned professional director. The tap dance will be performed to a vocal text by the entire 42-member student cast. The Waa-Mu cast members have choreographed all other dances in the production.

Northwestern junior Will Buck has contributed the music and lyrics for a dozen original songs to the show, including "One for the Books" the opening number, "Wonderland," "Bye Bye Prince Charming" and "Happy Ending." Buck also co-wrote "I Carry Your Heart" with sophomore Liz Olanoff, a song that pays tribute to author e.e. cummings, which will be sung by student soloist Kaitlin Fine. Reed Wilson, a junior, wrote the music and lyrics for "Song of Myself," a lyrical salute to Walt Whitman and the world of poets.

Northwestern and Waa-Mu alumnus Michael Mahler contributed a song titled "Librarian" that will feature choreography by senior Danny Westen. Mahler originally wrote the music and lyrics for the 2001 Waa-Mu Show, "Sorry We're Booked," when he was a cast member.

The 2009 show will include the 25th anniversary performance of "The Beautiful Bod," a song that was introduced during the 1984 Waa-Mu Show, "Suitable for Framing." The production number will revolve around the character of Jane Fonda as she tries to peddle her latest exercise workout book.

"Epilogue," the Senior Class of 2009 song, with music and lyrics by senior Andrea Hochkeppel, will be performed near the end of the show.

The famed "To The Memories" by the late Lloyd Norlin will be performed as a special tribute to Tom Roland, the second director of Waa-Mu, who passed away Sept. 26, 2008. Many of Roland's lifelong friends, including Georgia Norlin, Marietta Paynter and acting partner Anne Whitney and business associates Dave Wilkinson and Bill Whitney will attend the opening.

Single tickets for "Waa-Mu 2009: One for the Books" are $28 (tier one) to $21 (tier two) for the general public; $17 for seniors and Northwestern University faculty, staff and area educators and administrators; and $11 for full-time students.

Tickets for the May 10 Mother's Day Brunch are $39 per person (not inclusive of performance) and may be purchased through the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office. The deadline to order brunch tickets is April 27. For tickets, call (847) 491-7282 or order tickets online at http://www.waamu.northwestern.edu.