About Our Program

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As you navigate this website, you can easily see how we approach our Acting Training, Voice Training, and Dance Training.  What is harder to explain in print – but is the strength of Penn State Musical Theatre – is the integrated way in which we approach the training of a musical theatre artist.  Below are a few examples of this integrated approach – and the opportunities we offer our students that make us unique.  We are committed to the education of the whole artist and human – and passionate about not only the teaching of skills, but also about helping our students acquire their most powerful and individual artistic voice.  Thank you for your interest in Penn State!

John Simpkins, Head of Musical Theatre

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New Works Initiative – The Commissioning Project.
Each year, we commission writers to visit our Junior musical theatre students to meet, share work, and discuss issues.  The writers leave and begin to write a musical surrounding those young artists.  They return the following Fall to deliver a first draft of a musical inspired by the now Senior students and are in residence with us throughout the year workshopping and developing the musical.  The project culminates in an NYC concert (usually at 54 Below) and a full concert reading on campus.  Possibilities exist for the show to continue on at Penn State into production and then professional co-production with a Regional or NYC Theatre.  The first of these projects – LOVE IN HATE NATION (by Joe Iconis) – will receive its premiere production at Penn State in February, 2018.

Each Spring, the Senior class in musical theatre showcases in NYC to a full house of Industry professionals.  Students typically finish the Showcase with multiple audition opportunities, meetings with agents and casting directors, and a group of people that they can now include in their “network” moving forward.

Each Spring, the Senior class films a three-camera shoot of some of their musical material.  The event is called PLACES – and the goal is to provide our students with some professionally filmed media for their websites and youtube channels as they enter the Industry.

New York Trip.
Each Winter, the entire BFA Musical Theatre students and faculty spend a long weekend in NYC.  The itinerary is packed with master classes by Broadway artists in voice and dance, show tickets and talk backs with cast and creative teams, and alumni interaction that fosters a sense of Penn State musical theatre alums that assist our current students and recent graduates in a myriad of ways as they acclimate to living and working in NYC.

Master Class Series.
Each year, we invite multiple NYC based Industry professionals to campus to participate in Master Classes, Guest Teaching, and concert performance.  These guests range from agents/ casting directors to performers to writers.  The information they provide our students is invaluable – and through this interaction, our graduates have a head start on meeting and making positive impressions on Industry professionals.

The Studio Sequence.
Alongside the individual coursework in acting, voice, and dance we offer an integrated studio class in the sophomore, junior, and senior year.  The goal of the studio class is to deliberately work on the integration of the three separate art forms as they combine to make a musical theatre artist.  The sequence follows a series of courses:  Song Analysis (Solo Golden Age), Song Analysis (Solo Contemporary), Scene Study (all styles), Ensemble Performance, Audition Skills, Cabaret Performance, Business Skills for the Musical Theatre Actor, Showcase/ Places.

Styles Class.
In the Junior year, our students take a course called Musical Theatre Styles – geared toward a practical study of Broadway dance styles and choreographers from 1930 to the present.  In addition to being a terrific dance class, the students learn original choreography from the luminaries of the Industry – and why and how they transformed musical theatre with their work.  This course integrates history, dance, theatre, and performance all in one class.

MT Voice Studio Class.
Every two weeks, the MT voice faculty conducts a studio class.  All students and faculty are welcome for a low pressure, multiple faculty class.  The goal is to work on repertoire that is important to the student for any reason – an upcoming audition, something they are doing in a class for which they would like additional help, or a role in a show for which they would like additional coaching. 

Graduate Students.
In Musical Theatre at Penn State, there are highly selective graduate programs in Directing and Musical Directing.  The BFA students in musical theatre have the opportunity to work with and learn from these grad students in a variety of ways in both classroom and rehearsal situations.


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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

Website: http://www.theatre.psu.edu