Here at Northwestern, there are more than 500 student groups you can choose to get involved with. There are many that I love, but I want to take a moment to talk about one student group that has really captured my energy since my first year here: The Waa-Mu Show.
The Waa-Mu Show is an annual tradition at Northwestern. This year we are actually in our 86th year. It began in 1929 when the Women’s Athletic Association and Men’s Union decided to combine their annual musical comedies into the first co-ed college musical show. It was a hit and from then on, every year on campus, you could find The Waa-Mu Show. Up until 2011, the show continued to be in a revue-style that had been popular at the time of the show’s inception. When the current director, David H. Bell, took over, he decided to transform it into a completely student-written, performed, orchestrated, and choreographed book musical produced by students in collaboration with the department.
When I got to Northwestern, I had no experience with new work. Waa-Mu was different from any musicals I had seen because about 70 different writers work on it together! The sheer size of the team made it exciting for me. I auditioned for Waa-2, a group of first-year students who serve as ambassadors and the workshop cast for the show, and got in! As a member of Waa-2, I took the Creating the Musical class where the show is written every winter quarter. The class gets split up into nine groups of 6-8 people and your group is responsible for writing 12-15 minutes of the show. I ended up contributing to the book and co-writing a song that ended up in the show. That May I sat in Cahn Auditorium listening to the amazing pit orchestra playing and two of my talented friends singing a song I wrote — and I cried.
In the following years I served many different creative and administrative positions within the organization, learning more and more as I went. Last year I was finally able to perform onstage and it made me fall in love with Waa-Mu all over again. That’s why when the applications for Co-Chair came out, I realized I had to apply.
Let’s fast forward to now. As one of 4 co-chairs, I get to serve as one of the student heads of the organization. It’s been a whirlwind of an experience. I have about seven meetings every week and it really does feel like a 24/7 job. But, it’s so amazing to learn as I work on something that I am so passionate about. Together, we have been working to improve upon Waa-Mu’s success in the past by fostering inclusivity amongst our peers. Our show is called Beyond Belief: a superhero story and while it’s daunting that we haven’t started writing yet, I know it will happen. With Waa-Mu I’ve learned that sometimes you have trust in Wildcat magic.