Answer: While attending Northwestern University, they all appeared in the Waa-Mu Show, the school's annual showcase for musical theatre undergraduate talent.
The Waa-Mu Show will make its 75th anniversay from April 28 to May 7 with a celebration entitle "Jubilee!" Among the activities is an April 28 gala dinner and Wall of Fame ceremony honoring eight former Waa-Mu alumni: Kenneth Cornwall, Larry Grossman, Sheldon Harnick, Joe Miller, Lloyd Norlin, John P. Paynter, Tom Roland and Wilson Stone. The event will take place in the nearby Orrington Hotel in Evanston. Harnick wrote songs for the 1950 show; Stone for the 1951 show; Norland pfor the 1939 show; and Grossman for the 1958 show. Roland is a former Waa-Mu director. Paynter was the longtime conductor of the series. Miller was the first director of Waa-Mu. Cornwall was Waa-Mu's scenic designer for decades.
Each honoree will receive a plaque, which will be permanently hung in the lobby of the Cahn Auditorium, where the Waa-Mu Shows have always been held.
In honor of the anniversary, the city of Evanston has installed two honorary street signs outside Cahn Auditorium bearing the decidedly silly new street name "Waa-Mu Way." They will remain in place for the next 10 years.
(The show owes its odd name to the two organizations that founded it in 1928-29: the Women's Athletic Associatoin and the Men's Union. The show suspended performances during the World War II years.) The 2005 Waa-Mu show will feature music from previous shows as well as new material by the current student writers. "The opening number will include the entire cast in formalwear singing a salute that includes the titles of all 75 Waa-Mu Shows," said Dominic Missimi, the show's current and third director and head of Northwestern's Music Theatre Program, in a prepared statement. The shows typically end with the songs "To the Memories" by Lloyd Norlin, and "Back in the Old Routine" by Wilson Stone. Both were written for the 1951 show. The latter was later recorded by Bing Crosby and Donald O'Connor.
Other stage and screen actors who once graced the Waa-Mu stage include McLean Stevenson, Claude Akins, George Furth, Paul Lynde, Penny Fuller, Garry Marshall, Laura Innes, Shelley Long, Gregg Edelman, Nancy Dusault, Jeffrey Blumencrantz, Zach Braff, Brian d'Arcy James, Heather Headley, Jason Moore and Kate Shindle.
For more information, call the Theatre and Interpretation Center box office at (847) 491-7282 or visit the Waa-Mu Web site at www.waamu.northwestern.edu.