About The Dolphin Show


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.


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.

The 69th Annual Dolphin Show, Ragtime.

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 Dolphin Show logo before it was redesigned by John Allman (2013) for the 70th Anniversary in 2012.

The Dolphin Show logo before it was redesigned by John Allman (2013) for the 70th Anniversary in 2012.

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.

Click here to download a more in-depth history! 

Past Shows

1939: the Dolphin Club is founded
1940-1943: first Dolphin Club fundraisers
1944: Wela Kahau 
1944-1946: canceled due to WWII
1947: Howdy Partner 
1948: Mr. Dolphin Goes to Town 
1949: Hey Rube 
1950: Look Out Below
1951: Jambalaya 
1952: Aqua-Quest 
1953: Neptune's Memoirs 
1954: New Fins of '53
1955: Bottoms Up
1956: Fanfare 
1957: The Swimming Game 
1958: Out to See 
1959: Water Colors
1960: Splashing Good Time 
1961: Wonderland Revisited
1962: Aquassey 
1963: Fogg-Bound 
1964: The Mikado 
1965: Scheherazade 
1966: The Gondoliers 
1967: Bye Bye Birdie 
1968: Carousel
1969: South Pacific
1970: Mame
1971: Sweet Charity
1972: Man of La Mancha 
1973: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the
1974: Company
1975: Anything Goes
1976: Guys and Dolls
1977: Once Upon A Mattress 
1978: Fiddler on the Roof 

1979:  Gypsy
1980: Mae
1981: Wonderful Town
1982: Little Me
1983: Cabaret
1984: West Side Story
1985: Mack and Mabel
1986: Guys and Dolls
1987: Anything Goes
1988: Evita
1989: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
1990: My One and Only
1991: A Little Night Music
1992:  Big River
1993: Sunday in the Park with George
1994: Meet Me in St. Louis
1995: Gypsy
1996: City of Angels
1997: Kiss Me, Kate
1998: Sweeney Todd
1999: Guys and Dolls
2000:  Kiss of the Spiderwoman
2001: The Secret Garden
2002: Damn Yankees
2003: Evita
2004: Gypsy
2005: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
2006:  On the Town
2007: Into the Woods
2008: Carousel
2009: The Wizard of Oz
2010: Parade
2011: Ragtime
2012: 42nd Street 
2013: My Fair Lady
2014: Shrek the Musical

If you are a Dolphin Show alumna and would like to know more information, please email Khari Shelton at alumni@nudolphinshow.org.