About The Dolphin Show

The 75th Annual Dolphin Show, Little Shop of Horrors.


The Dolphin Show is America’s largest student-produced musical. Each year, over 150 undergraduate administrators, designers, technicians, actors and musicians work together to mount a massive Broadway-style musical in Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University’s grandest performance venue. Our mission is three-fold:

• to provide a new generation of artists and administrators with an unmatched production experience

• to develop a vibrant community among this group of collaborators from across Northwestern’s campus

• to create a theatrical experience that celebrates musical theatre and encourages reflection in its audiences


The 77th Annual Dolphin Show’s Andrew Harlan & Casey Watson At the 2018 Fall Student Organization Fair

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

Who are We? 

The Dolphin Show at Northwestern University 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 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.


The 73rd Annual Dolphin Show, Titanic.


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.

Click here to download a more in-depth history! 

Past Shows

2019: Hello, Dolly!

2018: Ragtime

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

1991: A Little Night Music

1990: My One and Only

1989: The 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

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 Memoirs

1952: Aqua-Quest

1951: Jambalaya

1950: Look Out Below

1949: Hey Rube

1948: Mr. Dolphin Goes to Town

1947: Howdy Partner

1944-46: Cancelled due to WWII

1944: Wela Kehau

1940-1943: First Dolphin Club Fundraisers

1939: The Dolphin Club is Founded



Want to learn more about The Dolphin Show?
Whether you are a Northwestern student, a Dolphin Show alumna, or a supporter of the arts, we would love to have you on our team! Please email producers@nudolphinshow.org or click the Contact Us link above for more information about how you can get involved with and support the Dolphin Show tradition.

If you are a Dolphin Show alumna and would like to know more information, please email Andrea Canizares-Fernandez at alumni@nudolphinshow.org.