Imagine the excitement of the student body when we found out that for the first time in three years, Northwestern would be going to a bowl game. Now, imagine that excitement magnified for all of Northwestern's seniors, who remembered our trip to a bowl game our freshman year, and who were now going to get the chance to bleed purple once again in our final year at the university. And, as if that much excitement wasn't enough, add on to it the overwhelming thrill felt when the chair of the Theatre department, Rives Collins, and of the Musical Theatre program, Dominic Missimi, approached me and five other current students about performing at the bowl celebrations. Victor Mazzone (MUS09), Ben Hoffman (C11), Kaitlin Fine (C09), Sally Eidman (MUS10), Julia Beck (C09), and I didn't waste one second before we gave our enthusiastic "yes" replies.
A sea of purple at the
Alamo Bowl in San Antonio
San Antonio's River Walk
In the midst of all this elation, both because our great university had the chance to show off our athletic prowess AND because suddenly six of us were going to have the chance to have a direct hand in cheering on the university (and maybe show off our own talents a bit in the process), rehearsals began. Winter break was less than a week away, and four of the six students were leaving the state for vacations, so we only had a few days to put the show together. Under the musical direction of Dr. Ryan Nelson and the direction of Dominic Missimi, we met, sang, staged, memorized, and perfected our musical revue celebrating all aspects of Northwestern. We planned an order, discussed costumes, and tried our best to think of everything we'd need to know before our performance, which was still weeks away! Winter break arrived, and we all went our separate ways with promises to rehearse before San Antonio.
Finally, two days before the bowl game, it was time for all of us to arrive in San Antonio. Ben Hoffman and I both arrived without a hitch in San Antonio, as did Rives Collins and the Northwestern marching band. We had the whole day to ourselves, as preparations and final rehearsals for the event wouldn't happen until the following morning. Ben and I took a walk around the San Antonio Riverwalk, a really stunningly beautiful (albeit a little touristy) section of the city and had our first of many Tex-Mex meals. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for the other four performers, derailing them with flight delays and lost suitcases. Luckily everyone finally made it, luggage and all.
In back from left to right: Ben Hoffman (C11), Victor Mazzone (MUS09), Eugenio Vargas (C09), and Adam Kantor (C08), front center
Top row from left to right: Kaitlin Fine (C09), Sally Eidman (MUS10), Julia Beck (C09). Front Row: Eugenio Vargas (C09), Ben Hoffman (C11), Victor Mazzone (MUS09)
The day of our performance (the day before the bowl game), we spent the morning running through the show musically with our musical director and our wonderful percussionist, Ian Weinberger (MUS09). Halfway into this rehearsal, we were joined by Northwestern alumni and stars of Broadway Adam Kantor (C08) and Kate Shindle (C98). All of us knew Adam, as he had been in school with us just the year before, but we were meeting Kate for the first time. What an awesome experience to get to perform with two powerhouse voices like theirs. When we first heard Kate sing her set, all six of us were stunned into silence with our jaws hanging open and our eyes wide. She is INCREDIBLE! After our morning music rehearsal, we all ran out for a quick lunch (of Tex-Mex, obviously), and then came back to do a run through of the show with staging, transitions, and microphones. Everything went relatively easily and smoothly, and we were dismissed to do as we pleased until our call time before the show.
That evening, we arrived in the ballroom for our call time, men in their tuxedos and women in their beautiful peach gowns, eagerly awaiting show time. There was a brief moment of panic -when we were informed the room that had been set aside as our greenroom/dressing room was actually not available to us – but being the seasoned thespians that we were, we rolled with the punches.
The show was amazing. The audience loved every minute of it, and we were having a blast performing with each other. Our tribute to President Bienen (a parody version of "Here's to You, Henry Higgins" from My Fair Lady entitled "Thanks to You, Henry Bienen") was one of the highlights of the show, as was a number from Waa-Mu 2008: Skylines titled "Purple Coast" by Daniel Green that, at one point, listed a plethora of famous Northwestern alumni. Adam and Kate both brought the house down in turn with their songs, and in the end, the entire gigantic ballroom of people was brought to their feet by Dr. Mallory Thompson conducting the marching band (who had burst into the room moments earlier, much to the audience's surprise) on the Northwestern Alma Mater – and then again when the marching band played our fight song for one last burst of Purple Pride before we left for the evening.
The entire group enjoys a moment at the Alamo Bowl despite the football team's loss
The eight performers left the hotel for the evening to celebrate. We were treated to dinner by some lovely, loyal fans and Rives (yes, once again, we had Tex-Mex), and then it was off for some time with just the performers. We found our way to a karaoke joint and spent the night singing some more. The six of us reprised our performance of Whitney Houston's "One Moment In Time" that we had just done at the show, complete with four-part harmonies. Kate Shindle once again prompted a standing ovation when she sang "Natural Woman," only this time, no one had any idea that she was a Broadway star and former Miss America 1998. With our voices thoroughly exhausted, it was time to head back to the hotel for a good night's rest.
The next day started off quite relaxing. We had the whole day to ourselves until it was time for the NAA Tailgate. The Tailgate was great fun. We got a chance to mingle with a lot of the people who had been at the performance the night before, all of whom were extremely kind and complimentary. We milled about there for a while, and then it was time to head over to the Alamodome for the game.
Alums Kate Shindle (C98) and Adam Kantor (C08) at the Alamo Bowl
In all honesty, recounting the game is still a little painful. I'll just say that the Wildcats played their hearts out, and, for the record, we were ahead for the VAST majority of the game.
The next day we all left on our separate flights to wherever it was we were headed to spend the rest of our Winter Breaks. As I headed to the airport (trying very hard to not think about the end of the game, but rather everything else that had happened in those few days), I knew it was an experience I wouldn't soon forget. I'd made new friends, reconnected with old ones, and had the chance to represent my university in an incredibly unique and memorable way. I hope Northwestern gets to attend many more bowl games, and that maybe I get the chance to be invited to celebrate with them again.