Stanford Law Students Hit a High Note with Murder Mystery Musical

Stanford Law School alum Felicity Lemon, a Big Law partner and power-hungry candidate for the law school’s deanship, was recently found murdered. 

Hilarity–and reams of parody–ensued.  

Stanford Law Students Hit a High Note with Murder Mystery Musical

The student-produced SLS Musical (also known as the virtually unpronounceable “MuSLSical”) recently marked its 41st year of irreverent fun. This year’s production took the form of a song-and-dance murder mystery titled “Only Mergers in the Building,” a titular riff on the popular Hulu whodunnit “Only Murders in the Building.” More than 600 SLS students, parents, and others attended the May 18 event at Dinkelspiel Auditorium, cheering on a production that had been more than a year in the making. It was a record-breaking year for ticket sales, according to Larkin Levine, JD ’24, who served as head director and one four executive producers. She also played Felicity, the doomed dean candidate.

A core group of the eventual 60 SLS student-participants started collaborating during the summer of 2023, steadily working through the busy school year to conceive, write, choreograph, produce, cast, direct, market—and ultimately perform in—the almost three-hour musical.

“It is a huge lift, but it is just so fun, truly one of the highlights of my time at the law school,” says Angus Livingstone, JD ’25, a producer, co-director, and a writer for this year’s MuSLSical—as well as a pianist and UK-trained physician. “Some of my closest friends in law school are people I did the musical with last year.”

Each year, the participating students conceive an original plot and write parodistic song lyrics to accompany existing pop songs or show tunes. In the hands of the MuSLScal team, “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” from The Lion King becomes “I Just Can’t Wait to be Dean.” Even the school’s grading system isn’t safe from good-natured ribbing with a bit about a new SLS grade, the AP, or Alpine Pass, which rewards students for skipping class to hit the Tahoe slopes.  

Stanford Law Students Hit a High Note with Murder Mystery Musical 1

The promo video for the Musical, captures the spirit of the event with its depiction of a support group, Partners of Law Students Anonymous, where one frustrated significant other of an SLS student laments: “I haven’t felt like more of an outsider than when I asked my partner’s friends from class what a ‘tort’ was … thank goodness they didn’t know either.”

“It is amazing,” Levine says, “how much creative talent there is in the law school.” Getting back in touch with her own creative side–which she had little time to nurture in college–inspired her to direct two scenes of the 2023 production and then go all in this year. “A huge part of what makes this so fun is getting to experience the many talents of the SLS student body, whether that’s music, dance, acting, or doing amazing behind the scenes tech.” 

Executive Producer Ariel Lowrey, JD ’24, who focused her talents on sound and light, says the MuSLSical is the ideal antidote to law school stress.  “Law school can be very tense and serious and there’s something really nice about having a moment to poke fun at everything, and to actually have fun and dedicate your time to something that is not professionally useful in any way.”

Not so fast, Levine says. The MuSLSical recently came up in a conversation she had with two practicing attorneys, who told her they put on a plaintiffs bar musical every year. “Although the show is primarily a fun outlet, it is also a wonderful opportunity to practice thinking on your feet, managing nerves or stage fright, and commanding an audience, all skills that can be extremely helpful as an attorney,” Levine says.

Stanford Law Students Hit a High Note with Murder Mystery Musical 2

Watch the Promo Video for the Musical