“Actors coming out of the Western Michigan School of Theatre are certainly among the best and most sought-after students I have encountered during my 25 years of recruiting for three nationally ranked graduate programs. They are extremely talented, expertly trained, and fully prepared for the rigors of the next level of training.” - Jim Wise, Professor of Acting/MFA acting program, The Pennsylvania State University
The BFA program in Musical Theatre is designed specifically to train the Music Theatre Performer. A collaboration between the Departments of Theatre and Dance and the School of Music, this conservatory style training prepares students for careers in musical comedy, operetta, opera, dance, and theatre. Students get four years of private vocal instruction, professional theatre training and professional dance training in ballet, jazz and tap. Courses in music theory, directing, script analysis, stagecraft, and theatre history are also required in this demanding, well-rounded curriculum. An impressive student to faculty ratio makes very personalized, one-on-one training with faculty possible. Master classes with nationally recognized, professional artists are also provided to expand the academic experience beyond the classroom. Students receive varied performance opportunities in the Department’s nine-show season, offering experiences in three different theatre spaces. The Encore Cabaret series provides an opportunity for Seniors to create their own cabaret and perform for audiences in the Atrium of the Gilmore Theatre Complex following most University Theatre productions. Onstage experience can also be found in department-supported, student-directed work through the directing classes and Footlight productions, as well as the New Play Project offered each summer. Students are given professional audition and interview opportunities on campus, as well as a chance to showcase their talent in New York City for industry agents and casting directors.
The Audition Format:
The MTP program is very competitive and a large number of auditionees are expected. All auditionees will be permitted to sing and perform their monologues, after which a decision may be made as to whether or not you will continue on to dance.
Candidates must perform 16 measures from each of two memorized songs. Be prepared to perform both songs in their entirety upon request. Both songs must be from Broadway literature – one ballad and one up-tempo – and should contrast in style. Music composed by Stephen Sondheim is not permitted. Bring music in the correct key and with cuts clearly marked. Taped accompaniment, a cappella singing or lead sheets are not permitted. An accompanist will be provided. Candidates will be taught a dance combination at the audition. Dance attire is required (leotards, tights or dance pants; jazz shoes, soft-soled tennis shoes, or bare feet). Candidates will perform one memorized monologue of one minute in length chosen from a play written within the last fifty years and relating to the applicant’s own age and life-experience. Candidates will also be required to take a music theory exam to determine placement in music courses.
There will only be one audition for entrance into the Music Theatre Performance program. Should a Music Theatre Performance candidate not gain entrance to the program through their initial audition, a second audition would only be possible by invitation from the Director of Music Theatre Performance.
Preparing Your Music:
Have your score prepared before your audition. Mark the beginning and the ending of your selection clearly. Make sure your score is clean and easy to read. [Eraser marks and notes to yourself (i.e., breath marks, blocking, diction, etc.)] can be distracting to the accompanist. If your score is a copy, it is suggested that you mount it in a 3-ring binder. This makes seeing and turning the pages easier for the accompanist. Make sure your selection is in the key in which you will perform it. Do not expect the accompanist to transpose it for you.
When preparing your audition, be sure to use material that is within your age range, and understanding. It is always advised that you seek out coaching and work extensively on your audition. Wear clothing that is simple, professional, and comfortable. Avoid material that is well beyond your age range or understanding or roles in which you would not feasibly be cast. Do not use costumes, dialects, or props. A chair will be provided for you. Arrive early for auditions but be prepared to wait.
A monologue should show off who you are. Look for contemporary pieces with roles in your age range that you could be cast in today. We suggest that you avoid Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Neil Simon. Look for contemporary playwrights. Novels and unpublished plays often have good monologues. It is also possible to find good monologues in movie scripts, but be careful, you don’t want to do something recognizable. Choosing the perfect monologue is no place to take shortcuts. This is your calling card and should be done with diligence and care.
The Department of Theatre makes annual awards of scholarships in several categories and for varying amounts. These are made in recognition of the variety of talents necessary for success in the performance, design, technical, stage management, and arts management areas of the theatre.
For further information on Department of Theatre majors or the minor, contact Debra Gambino, Academic Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.