A unicorn, a fish and a green three-tailed creature are on a stage. No, this is not the opening line to a joke. The trio is fighting about why they missed boarding Noah’s Ark. Until the fish realizes she has gills and swims away, that is.
That scene is a tiny slice of what Waa-Mu’s 2010 show, Keeping Time, has to offer the audience. Other sketches feature characters including different presidents, Genghis Khan, Confucius and Marie Curie, to name a few.
“Sometimes the over-the-top nature of Waa-Mu does pay off and is really fun and exciting,” said Lindsay Powell, a Waa-Mu co-chair along with RB Embleton.
Keeping Time opens this Friday with songs and sketches all loosely based on time and history. Waa-Mu has been working on the show since the new executive board came into office last spring. This will be the last of director Dominic Missimi’s 17 years at the helm of Waa-Mu and 19 years of involvement in the show.
“I’m sad to leave, but I’m excited to think about what a new Waa-Mu show will be like,” Missimi said.
The director said he is happy to see the show flourish, with its largest-ever cast of 51 students. Although he noted that a large cast and young writers made directing the show challenging at times, Missimi said that means the show will have strong talent and experience to build off of in the years to come.
The process of shaping a Waa-Mu show from its creation until opening night is not easy. Right after the co-chairs announces the show’s theme, the entire executive board begins to discuss ideas.
Powell, Embleton and Missimi developed this year’s theme based on the success of the 2009 show about books, called One for the Books. The three wanted to use another theme that would allow Waa-Mu to once again incorporate colorful costumes, funny sketches and unique characters.
During the fall, any student who wishes to write for the show can come to meetings held twice weekly and present ideas for sketches or even entire scripts. Then in the winter, key players in the show’s development take a student-run seminar where they workshop the show and finalize an order for the songs and sketches. Rehearsal does not start until after spring break.
“I think that a big struggle is finding a really great balance of songs that are funny and current and songs…that the older crowd will really enjoy,” Powell said of the creative process, adding that many 40- to 50-year-olds come see the show each year.
Co-choreographer Carly Robinson, who shares the responsibility with Britt Banasczynski, said she likes the way the show is coming together for Missimi’s final year.
“It’s really an unbelievable cast,” she said. “The sketches are really smart and witty, and all the songs are incredible. I would recommend it to a lot of people.”