Waa-Mu

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I’d never gone to a Waa-Mu show at Northwestern, but my friend saw that this year it would be a musical about forgotten female historical figures and I agreed to go. An 88 year old tradition, Waa-Mu was a variety show, but is now a musical project. For the last few years rather than a variety show, the students have written a full musical.

For the Record was this year’s play. It centered on mild-mannered Millenial Andi who works as a reporter at a Chicago newspaper. She’s hungry to write an article worthy of note, but she keeps getting dull assignments like reporting on street name changes. The street name task takes her down an interesting alley-way and she decides to investigate the lives of three forgotten women in history. The play shifts from the present to the past as we see the glorious work of Ida B. Wells, Gene Graebeel and Julie d’Aubigny.

The performances were terrific and the story flowed, though I thought it could sue some trimming. The sets were innovative. I enjoyed about learning about these noteworthy women, but I don’t think Ida B. Wells is an unknown. There are schools and streets with her name in these parts.

While the students write the story and songs, there’s a faculty member who makes the final decisions. I wish that person had kept the story simple. There’s enough drama with a young reporter struggling to make her way and survive at a paper that’s just been bought my a millionaire cum politician and the stories of three historic figures who faced great challenges in their days. We didn’t also need a helicopter mom who had an insatiable need for attention and devotion from her daughter. Then there’s a twist that pours on the guilt and it just added melodrama. Nonetheless, the play entertained and informed. The singing and music were a delight.

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