Manhattan Miracle: The 87th Waa-Mu Show promises a jazzy extravaganza

    If you couldn’t tell from the bright red paint donning the Rock, Northwestern’s oldest theatrical tradition is upon us. The 87th Annual Waa-Mu Show is back this Friday, May 4, with an original play inspired by the first American musical, The Black Crook.

    Produced, written and performed by around 200 students, Manhattan Miracle follows a group of failing actors and a Parisian ballet troupe as they combine their talents to create a production unlike anything the world has never seen. According to Communication senior Maxwell Beer, the show can be summarized in a few words: “Collaboration and spectacle."

    "I think those are two words that sum up not only the show, but the whole Waa-Mu experience,” Beer said.

    Beer, one of four co-chairs responsible for producing the show, has been a part of Waa-Mu for four years. He believes that his contributions, along with his fellow students’, are finally adding up.

    “It feels like a culmination of three or four years of dedication and hard work, and you know, seeing this thing through,” he said. “It’s something that is so unique. … The hard work and the dedication and the collaboration required for something like this to happen is really outstanding.”

    Communication sophomore Emma Griffone is also excited for the opportunity to showcase her work in Waa-Mu as Lily Crandall, a saloon singer. Now in her second year on Team Music, a group of students that orchestrate the entire show, she sees Manhattan Miracle from a composer’s perspective. “Musically, the show lives in a very jazz-based world. It’s kind of like Victorian-style in terms of ambiance meets 1920s to 30s jazz,” she said.

    With this classic sound in mind, she views Manhattan Miracle as an accessible form of historical fiction. “It’s a contemporary approach to this older story and very long-lived music, and so it’s unique and very enjoyable to watch,” Griffone said.

    Both Beer and Griffone find parallels to the history of Waa-Mu itself in Manhattan Miracle.

    “The show is a bit meta because it’s about writing a musical, and what we do in this whole year is write a musical,” Beer said. “It’s not just, ‘How do we write a show?’ but, how do people collaborate? How do we put aside our differences to create one cohesive vision?”

    The 87th Waa-Mu Show runs May 4-5 at 7:30 p.m., May 6 at 2 p.m., May 10-12 at 7:30 p.m. and May 12-13 at 2 p.m. Tier two tickets are half-off for the opening show Friday night. Purchase your tickets here.


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