Welcome Letter from John Simpkins - September 2017

Greetings from Penn State Musical Theatre, where we are full of excitement as we welcome four new faculty members and twelve new students into the program! Add the four new graduate students in Directing and Musical Directing and it makes for quite a few new faces around campus! I cannot wait for you to meet this new group of artists—as always, they are passionate, talented, curious, highly motivated humans that we are thrilled to have with us.

In addition to the training side of things, there are so many new things going on in the program—below is a “highlights reel” of just a few of them. As always, please reach out to me at johnsimpkins@psu.edu if you would like more information or if one of these initiatives speaks to you and you might like to help support it…


  • Our New Works Initiative (the Commissioning Project) is in full swing in its second year. This year, Mike Reid (Penn State alum) and Sarah Schlesinger have been commissioned to write a musical for our current senior class. Last year’s musical, LOVE IN HATE NATION, is getting a full production at Penn State in February! See the article later in the newsletter for more information.


  • This year, we begin our “Master Class Series,” designed to further connect Penn State Musical Theatre with New York City and the industry. A combination of artist visits to Penn State and student trips to NYC will provide our students a way of interacting with professionals in a more specific way while they are studying with us.


  • We are exploring relationships with international partners for student exchanges. Last spring, we welcomed two students from Norway for two weeks at Penn State. This year, we will send two of our students for two weeks of training and performing in Norway. Alumnus Jonathan Flom has been instrumental in this effort (thanks, Jonathan!). We are exploring future exchanges with our friends in Denmark as well.


  • We have started a bi-weekly studio voice class taught by the MT voice faculty—a master class environment where students can try out any of the material they are working on in class or rehearsal.


  • We have formed a marketing and social media committee to help raise the outside profile of our MT students and alumni. Check it out on Facebook, Instagram @pennstatemt or Twitter @psumt. Please keep us updated on your projects so we can continue to celebrate with you!


Lastly…some exciting news! 

Next year (2018-2019) is the 25th anniversary of Penn State Musical Theatre! We are forming a group that will include current students, faculty, alumni, and donors to discuss some plans to celebrate next year. If you would like to join that group, we are looking for a couple of alumni who might want to participate in that committee. Please let me know if you are interested—we are excited to celebrate the first 25 years and look forward to the next 25!


Enjoy your fall and let me know if you have any plans to come back to campus—we’d love to see you!




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Contact Us

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

Office: (814) 865 7586

Fax: (814) 865 5754

Tickets: (814) 863 0255

Email: theatre@psu.edu