The School of Theatre at Penn State offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre. We maintain a limited enrollment to ensure maximum interaction between the students and faculty. Students are selected through auditions held in the fall and spring of each year.
Voice training for this program begins with the fundamentals of classical technique and expands rapidly to include training in techniques specific to the musical theatre repertoire, including mixing and belting. Our goal is to help you develop a healthy, versatile singing voice adaptable to the many styles required in musical theatre today.
If you are accepted into this program, your first semester will introduce you to a vocal technique and song performance in a group class. The class includes a brief weekly private diagnostic session for each student. You will memorize, rehearse, and perform approximately six songs in different styles which will be presented at the semester’s end to faculty and students. Second semester freshmen begin regular weekly half-hour lessons with the members of the voice faculty. You will also continue to meet once a week in a performance-oriented group class.In your sophomore year you will continue to refine and develop vocal technique in one hour weekly lessons as you increase your command of the musical theatre repertoire. Each semester culminates in a juried performance before the entire voice faculty.
You will continue taking hour-long voice lessons in your junior and senior years. In the spring of your senior year you will have the opportunity to create your own cabaret/recital instead of a jury. As a graduating senior you will also be able to take advantage of the NEXT STEP Endowment, a funded program assisting your transition into the profession.
There are many performance opportunities available in the School of Music and the School of Theatre. Each year the stages and recital halls are filled with concerts, musicals, operas, comedies and dramas. There are dozens of performances involving hundreds of students. BFA Musical Theatre students from the sophomore year and up are invited to audition for mainstage productions and are required to audition for the department musicals. First-year students must have the consent of the Head of Musical Theatre before they audition. The weekly voice forum provides another opportunity for you to try out new material in a performance setting, and to be coached by a member of the voice faculty other than your regular teacher. In the fall of your junior and senior years you have the option of participating in a cabaret class, which prepares songs and dances performed for the home football games at “tailgate parties” hosted by the President of Penn State University. Compensation for these performances helps fund the annual trip to New York City for all the students in the program. The weekend trip includes a Broadway show, and dance and vocal master classes taught by New York professionals.