The Dolphin Show

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The Dolphin Show is a non-profit student theatre organization that annually produces the nation's largest student-run musical. It celebrates the diverse talents of the Northwestern University undergraduate community by providing opportunities to learn and excel in all artistic and administrative fields. The Dolphin Show presents a professional-caliber production, while involving the community through outreach. This year, the 72nd Annual Dolphin Show will be announced on Sunday, September 15 at 9 p.m. Check back soon for more information!



In 1939 a group of Northwestern University men interested in developing their swimming talents formed an elite group called the Dolphin Club. They swam hard and won competitions all over the Chicago area. In 1940 an opportunity to compete in a Florida meet prompted the men to hold a swim carnival in order to raise money so their 15-member team could travel south for the meet. Both the carnival and the meet were so successful that the Dolphin Club repeated its efforts the following year. With the aid of experience, new features were added and the quality of the water show improved.

By 1942 the popularity of the Dolphin Club's show had grown. The effects of World War II forced the cancellation of the annual Waa-Mu show, another popular musical at Northwestern. Dolphin Club members used this opportunity to combine their tradition with some of the original student talent that had been the Waa-Mu show and presented an evening of song and dance. Unfortunately, due to the wartime economy, the newly named Dolphin Show was canceled as well.

The Dolphin Show resurfaced in 1944 with the musical revue entitled "Wela Kahau." The production showcased the aquatic talents of the women's water ballet and the men's Dolphin Club. The proceeds from this show went to buy war bonds. By 1948 the tradition of the show was strong, and the audiences returned to see the musical-comedy revue which took place around the pool of Patten Gymnasium. A team of designers and other staff members mounted the show in order to, once again, send the Dolphin Club to Florida. As time progressed club members found that the show ventured further and further away from its original aquatic roots. In 1949 the Lorelei Club, a female swimming club, joined the Dolphin Club's efforts to produce the Dolphin Show. With the addition of this group, the Dolphin Executive Board came into being. The board gave equal representation to both clubs in decisions concerning materials and budgets. Each year the clubs chose a theme around which the show would develop.

The year 1963 brought the first Dolphin Show in which the play around the pool was an event itself, not serving as a fund-raiser. A year later, the 1964 Dolphin Show was still trying to get out of the water. Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado" was presented around the pool. In 1970, the musical "Mame" finally graced the Cahn Auditorium stage. Those students currently associated with the Dolphin Show are proud of its rich history. Few shows can boast such a colorful background or such successful alumni as actors David Schwimmer, Warren Beatty and former Miss America Kate Shindle.

Selection Process

Beginning with the 2015 Dolphin Show, the selection process will be as follows:

  • Producers: The Dolphin Show Producers will hold private interviews with potential producer candidates, and make a recommendation to the StuCo Executive Board. This recommendation can only be overturned with a unanimous vote. Note: Producers are not allowed to be hold named positions on a board. However, if they are already an existing member of a board, they are allowed to remain as an at-large, affiliated members only, and cannot hold titles with specific duties. It is up to the discretion of the StuCo Board in question to decide how involved a member can be in its season.
  • Director: The newly selected Dolphin Show Producers will meet with all director candidates in private meetings at the beginning of Spring Quarter. From these meetings, they will narrow their choices to no less than three and no more than five people. Once the new StuCo Exec members have been elected, they along, with the outgoing members of StuCo Exec, will hear from those candidates the Dolphin Producers have selected. After the group hears their petitions, the Dolphin Producers will inform StuCo Exec of their selection of director. Following discussion, that selection shall only be overturned with a majority vote from StuCo Exec.
  • Show: Once the Producers and Directors are selected, they have approximately one month to choose three shows they will be excited to bring to campus. They will bring those selections to StuCo Exec on the meeting following full StuCo season selection. StuCo Exec will choose the Dolphin Show based on what they feel is missing from the future season, and what will be a good way to round out the year in theatre.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Email StuCo co-chairs at or Dolphin Producers at

External Links

Production History

  • 2017: Little Shop of Horrors
  • 2016: Gypsy
  • 2015: Titanic
  • 2014: Shrek the Musical
  • 2013: My Fair Lady
  • 2012: 42nd Street
  • 2011: Ragtime
  • 2010: Parade
  • 2009: The Wizard of Oz
  • 2008: Carousel
  • 2007: Into The Woods
  • 2006: On The Town
  • 2005: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
  • 2004: Gypsy
  • 2003: Evita
  • 2002: Damn Yankees
  • 2001: The Secret Garden
  • 2000: Kiss of the Spiderwoman
  • 1999: Guys and Dolls
  • 1998: Sweeney Todd
  • 1997: Kiss Me Kate
  • 1996: City of Angels
  • 1995: Gypsy
  • 1994: Meet Me In St. Louis
  • 1993: Sunday In The Park With George
  • 1992: Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • 1991: A Little Night Music
  • 1990: My One And Only
  • 1989: Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
  • 1988: Evita
  • 1987: Anything Goes
  • 1986: Guys and Dolls
  • 1985: Mack and Mabel
  • 1984: West Side Story
  • 1983: Cabaret
  • 1982: Little Me
  • 1981: Wonderful Town
  • 1980: Mame
  • 1979: Gypsy
  • 1978: Fiddler on the Roof
  • 1977: Once Upon A Mattress
  • 1976: Guys and Dolls
  • 1975: Anything Goes
  • 1974: Company
  • 1973: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
  • 1972: Man of La Mancha
  • 1971: Sweet Charity
  • 1970: Mame

The Dolphin Show moves to Cahn Auditorium

  • 1969: South Pacific
  • 1968: Carousel
  • 1967: Bye Bye Birdie
  • 1966: The Gondoliers
  • 1965: Scheherazade
  • 1964: The Mikado
  • 1963: Fogg-Bound
  • 1962: Aquassey
  • 1961: Wonderland Revisited
  • 1960: Splashing Good Time
  • 1959: Water Colors
  • 1958: Out to See
  • 1957: The Swimming Game
  • 1956: Fanfare
  • 1955: Bottoms Up
  • 1954: New Fins of '53
  • 1953: Neptune's Memoirs
  • 1952: Aqua-Quest
  • 1951: Jambalaya
  • 1950: Look out Below
  • 1949: Hey Rube
  • 1948: Mr. Dolphin Goes to Town
  • 1947: Howdy Padhner
  • 1944-46: Cancelled due to WWII
  • 1940-43: First Dolphin Club Fundraisers
  • 1939: The Dolphin Club is founded
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