The new stage work is written, composed, choreographed and co-produced by more than 100 Northwestern students.
Presented by the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at Northwestern University and the Waa-Mu Show team, “Another Way West” will be staged from April 29 to May 8, at Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., on the University’s Evanston campus.
Tickets to the 85th annual show are available for purchase through the Wirtz Center Box Office.
Undergraduate student co-chairs Charlie Oh, Elizabeth Romero, Fergus Inder and Myrna Conn -- all seniors -- lead the 2016 production with artistic direction by David H. Bell. Bell, a Northwestern professor of music theatre in the School of Communication and an award-winning professional director, has worked extensively around the world.
“Another Way West” follows an ambitious graduate student's research expedition on the Oregon Trail. When tragedy strikes, she becomes the sole legal guardian of her young relatives. Unwilling to sacrifice her dream, she takes her nieces and nephews along on her trip, where they must learn to live and work together. On their journey, the new family pursues not only "another way west," but also what all pioneers seek: hope for the future and a bright tomorrow.
Waa-Mu Show 2016 performances at Cahn Auditorium will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 29; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 1; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5; 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8.
David H. Bell
David H. Bell, the production’s supervisor and director, is an internationally renowned director and choreographer. Bell, Northwestern’s Donald G. Robertson Director of Music Theatre, has been nominated for 44 Joseph Jefferson (“Jeff”) Awards and has won 11. Bell also has been nominated for London’s prestigious Laurence Olivier Award, among others.
Ryan T. Nelson
Ryan T. Nelson, the Waa-Mu Show’s conductor and music supervisor, is a lecturer in music theatre for the School of Communication at Northwestern University and the music director for Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts. Nelson also is the resident music director at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, where he has music directed dozens of productions.
Waa-Mu Show history
The Waa-Mu Show began as a joint effort of the University's Women's Athletic Association (W.A.A.) and Men's Union (M.U.) during the 1928-29 academic year. In recent years, Waa-Mu has evolved from a series of musical and theatrical vignettes into an entirely student-written and orchestrated musical. The Waa-Mu Show is a forerunner in the world of musical theater writing, giving undergraduate students a chance to serve as leaders in every aspect of the production's creation, from writing to orchestration to performance.
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.
Tickets for the 2016 Waa-Mu Show are $30 (first tier) and $25 (second tier) for the general public; $22 for seniors over 62 and Northwestern faculty and staff and educators; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs (at the door).
To purchase tickets through the Wirtz Center Box Office, visit the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, phone 847-491-7282 or purchase online.