Greetings from Penn State Musical Theatre (April 2017)

American Idiot highlighted our winter production calendar – with incredible performances by our students – and outstanding work from the creative team (led by M.F.A. Director Erin Farrell Speer, faculty choreographer Michele Dunleavy, and M.F.A. Music Director Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer). We recently finished the run of a beautiful chamber production of The Light in the Piazza – masterfully led by M.F.A. Director Darcy Evans and M.F.A. Music Director Chris Rayis.  The annual New York trip was a huge success – highlighted by a dance master class led by Tony Award nominee Joshua Bergasse and a talk back with some of the cast after a performance of Dear Evan Hansen. And the seniors rocked 54 Below with Penn State Sings Joe Iconis – a highlight concert of the new musical Joe wrote for them, now titled Love in Hate Nation!

We are currently in the very exciting (but bittersweet) process of helping to launch our seniors into the business – and recruiting the freshman class for fall 2017! In the middle of all of that, we bid farewell to Mary Saunders as she retires after many years of incredible work for the program and students.

We are also currently hosting two students from Norway for two weeks as the beginning of an exchange program with a musical theatre school. Next year, we will do a student “swap” for two weeks – where two of our students will study in Norway for two weeks and we will welcome two of their students. We are investigating and planning a similar exchange with an academy of musical theatre in Denmark beginning next year. As the world gets smaller, our hope is to give some of our interested students a chance to visit and study in some other cultures during their time at Penn State!

Throughout the newsletter, you will see invitations and stories on some upcoming events in Musical Theatre. I hope you’ll take a moment to read about all of the wonderful things that our students are doing. I couldn’t be prouder of the work that they are doing – and the way in which they go about that work as young artists. If you find yourself in the area ­– or wanting to make a trip to campus to visit – please let me know. We would love a chance to welcome you back, introduce you to our current students, and show you some of the exciting things going on in musical theatre!



John Simpkins

Head of Musical Theatre

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Address: Penn State School of Theatre, 116 Theatre Building, University Park, PA 16802 USA.

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