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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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NU’s ‘Dolphin Show’ largest student-produced musical in country

Northwestern+put+on+its+2024+Dolphin+Show+production+of+Kinky+Boots+the+musical
Joanne Haner
Northwestern put on its 2024 Dolphin Show production of Kinky Boots the musical

When one hears reference to the Dolphin Show, they might assume that it has some relation to aquatic animals. Although the history of the organization ties back to swimming and water activities, today’s Dolphin Show is  known for being the theater organization at Northwestern University that stages the largest student-produced musical in the country each year. 

The Dolphin Show organization has a long history that dates back over 80 years. It all began in 1939, when some Northwestern undergraduate men created a group which they called the Dolphin club  in the hopes that they could work together to improve their swimming talents. The following year, the athletes wanted to compete in Florida; however, they did not have all the funds to do so. To solve this problem they decided to host a swim carnival in order to raise money. The carnival ended up being a big success, so it became an annual event over the next few years. 

In 1944, the club decided to entertain audience members by including a musical performance that had swimming, and singing, which viewers really enjoyed. This addition became the catalyst for the carnival’s transformation into the Dolphin Show, the classic production admired by Northwestern students of today.

After a hiatus due to World War II, the club returned to creating performances in 1947. As the years went on, the production expanded beyond swimming and singing to also include sketches and dance numbers. The Dolphin Show’s popularity then grew as the group began to incorporate extravagant costumes, sets and lighting.

In 1949, the all-female swim group, the Lorelei Club, joined forces with the Dolphin Club and they co-produced the show.

By 1969, the Dolphin Show, no longer a swim team fundraiser,  had hundreds of students that wanted to be a part of it.

The productions changed from student-scripted shows into student-led broadway revivals, with the cast split into a “land cast,” and a “water cast.” Finding it harder to restage and perform around a pool, the group decided to move the show entirely to land, in the Cahn Auditorium, where it has stayed since 1970. The Dolphin Show was then able to do full-scale broadway revivals, and they haven’t stopped yet.

2024 marks the Dolphin Show’s 81st annual production with over 150 students bringing the hit show “Kinky Boots the Musical” to life!

Besides its long history and its designation as the largest student-produced musical in the country, the Dolphin Show is now  recognized for its inclusivity. The organization allows students from all majors, backgrounds and experience levels to become part of the Dolphin Show community.  This includes the business team, the production team, the artistic team, the cast and the orchestra.

One student who values this belief of inclusivity is Alexa Goldstine, a senior at Northwestern majoring in psychology and theater, who took on the role of director for the 2024 Dolphin Show.

“Being a part of a barrier-free organization is great, because there are so many clubs on campus that require some kind of admission. The Dolphin Show is special because it welcomes everybody, and there are so many people who are so excited to be a part of it,” stated Goldstein.

Having been a part of the Dolphin Show organization since freshman year, Goldstein knows firsthand the special community that is built when working on the production.

“I think Dolphin is such a strong community. It is a group of people that really come together because they want to be here, and I think that’s super key in how we as a group work,” stated Goldstein.

Goldstein was chosen in April for the role of director and then spent about nine-and-a-half months working with the show team to create the final production. After collaborating with a variety of talented students across disciplines, she has developed a strong appreciation for the people she got to know. 

“There is such a wealth of knowledge at Northwestern, and so many people have such strong passions for the show. Being able to work with all of these people and having everyone really pitch in in such a community oriented way is key in how Dolphin works and how we as a group work together,” stated Goldstein.

With their indestructible foundation of inclusivity and the community they form over their months of work leading up to the show, members of the Dolphin Show are able to produce something  they really admire. When Goldstine got to finally see the production of “Kinky Boots” come together, she was overjoyed with the results. 

“I felt so proud of everybody and of the show that we were able to put on, because it really was a labor of love from everyone involved,” shared Goldstein.

In addition to the pride the Dolphin Show members get after finishing their production, they also walk away with great learning experiences. 

“I learned a lot about communication and working in a way that works with multiple different people’s working styles and that feels inclusive towards everybody,” stated Goldstein.

It isn’t only the members of the executive board that gain experience from being a part of the Dolphin show. Actors learn how to adjust their performance and amplify their voice to fit a large space like the Cahn Auditorium. Orchestra members get the experience of playing alongside a live show. In addition, the design crew learns about working with a budget to design and build sets and develop costumes. 

It is clear that the Dolphin Show provides a beneficial experience for all students involved. It encourages them to collaborate with peers, improve their craft in a safespace, create bonds and build community.

Although the 2024 Dolphin show has come to a close, passion from Northwestern’s students will ensure the beloved show will remain a tradition for years to come. 

Having seen Kinky Boots the musical myself and witnessing the powerful performances and amazing set and costumes, I know I will want to witness what the Dolphin Show has in store for viewers next year!

 

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About the Contributor
Rory Lehman, Digital Staff Member, Staff Writer
Hi, my name is Rory Lehman (she/her/hers) and I am a writer for Arts and Entertainment and a videographer for the Social section. I am a freshman and I am really looking forward to my first year working on The Evanstonian. I have loved to write since a very young age, and after writing for my middle school’s newspaper I knew I wanted to continue to strengthen my journalism skills in high school. Beyond The Evanstonian, I play on the ETHS Girls Frosh Tennis Team, and am a member of Student Council. In my free time I love to channel my inner Rory Gilmore and read, write, and go to coffee shops with friends!
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