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are MT actors shut out of plays?

luisenluisen Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
I found out a pretty good article about acting for MT actors, saying that acting has been taken as the extra - the least important - of the 3 main core MT disciplines. "Many musical theatre students get only a ‘smattering’ in acting – a general short course in the basics".
Even an actress says that she regrets not having enough acting courses at college.


After reading this article I can relate it to a lot of US Colleges programs with enphasis in acting, dancing, singing. Carnegie Mellon has an emphasis in acting, for example, they even do not have a dancing audition, and their students do great not being necessarily great dancers.

So far I ask myself how important are these acting techniques for MT actors such as Stanivlasky, Meisner, Hagen, Suzuki, Viewpoints because even after college these techniques improve the acting skills of an actor.

After studing these 3 disciplines I can say that it all depends on what you want and the career path that you want to take.

This is the link:
https://www.thestage.co.uk/advice/2017/musical-theatre-actors-shut-plays/

Replies to: are MT actors shut out of plays?

  • sopranomtmomsopranomtmom Registered User Posts: 472 Member
    This is why it is so important to really study the curriculum and ask questions of the school you choose to attend. Acting emphasis was very important to my daughter and definitely not all MT programs are created equal when it comes to acting emphasis. One of the things that drew her to Hartt when making her final decision was its excellent acting training for both Actors and MTs. One of the things they wanted to make sure was understood when we attended their information session at Unifieds is that they are a conservatory program that produces actors and for those who choose to pursue MT, they will become actors who sing and dance very well.
  • luisenluisen Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    I would say that besides dthe curriculum the students have to take a look into the professors careers and how well trained they are. Even if they are good teachers or not. Also the MT shows and plays the schools produce, for example, are pretty important. I would hesitate to choose a school producting Bring it on the Musical instead of Les Mis.
  • KTVoiceKTVoice Registered User Posts: 197 Junior Member
    But a school can't always produce Les Mis.. they need a variety. I would hesitate to judge any school by one show.... it is easy to see what they have put up over a period of time.

    I think it is really important to do your homework on courses.. schools will focus differently. That is why it is impossible to say X school is better than Y. It really depends on fit. What do you need to grow as a performer and does that school offer you the best opportunity to reach your full potential.

  • gingersnap97gingersnap97 Registered User Posts: 232 Junior Member
    I agree that you need to look carefully at the individual curriculum at the schools. Hartt has a very strong basis in acting, teaching a variety of techniques and styles, and I know other programs do as well, but not all of them do. A Hartt MT grad from 2013 or 14 I think, Sarah Killough, recently understudied the role of Katherine in Long Day's Journey into Night on Broadway and other MT grads have done straight play and TV/Film roles, so that is a testament to the emphasis on acting in the program. I do agree that the direction in the industry is that successful performers must be able to act - the voice alone will no longer be enough to book you work.
  • mom4bwayboymom4bwayboy Registered User Posts: 1,687 Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    My S is a junior MT at Wright State. In reality, his diploma will say BFA Acting with MT Emphasis (with as many extra Acting credits as he can cram in his schedule before graduation). By the time he was a junior in HS he realized that having an opportunity to become a skilled actor in musical theater would be his measure of a program's curriculum - as well as observing the acting of the students in the productions we able to see. Musical Theater is storytelling put to music. If the story does not engage, or the actors do not connect to each other and the audience, then it might as well be a concert.

    On judging ate acting of a program by the productions it mounts - I wouldn't. There are many factors that go into deciding a main stage - and/or black box - season. It could be expected ticket sales (WSU pays for productions via ticket sales. Other programs have designated funds for productions); the opportunity to work with a visiting director/choreographer/tech designer; a faculty member's bucket list; the stable of talent in a given year; which rights are available (I know WSU has had to change and delay final announcement of a season for this reason); limitations/opportunities for particular required sets/tech design; choosing a show to push boundaries - for performers or audience. . .

    Another thing to look at when researching schools is what student-run opportunities are available to program participants. Some of the most innovative productions come from students who are able to stretch themselves in a safe, supportive easily-accessible environment. Just as in any other field, how an actor grows after graduation is totally determined by his/her own goals and determination.
  • artskidsartskids Registered User Posts: 1,547 Senior Member
    @luisen I would hesitate to choose a school based on a single production. Every school has different goals and different collaborations and it may not always make sense to judge based on one singular show.

    My S is in a BM program and, like @mom4bwayboy S, has picked up all the additional acting classes he can fit into his schedule. He was in a straight play last summer as part of his summer stock work, and will be doing a Shakespeare play this summer but MT has certainly been his collegiate focus. However, he feels the training process will never be done - he will continue his training in all the disciplines beyond college.
  • toowonderfultoowonderful Registered User Posts: 4,145 Senior Member
    to return to the original article..... It seems to be from the UK training perspective, which I believe is somewhat different than the US training perspective.....
  • luisenluisen Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    @toowonderful you are right, that's the reason why I said if I could relate it to US Colleges. Anyhow I see some parallels because of the nature of MT.
    And I do not want to judge a school based on a single show, it was just an example. Sorry for being judgemental but I am not a native English speaker.

    All of the advices you say are very helpful, thanks for that!

    I still see in my homecountry that a lot of MT actors put more enphasis in singing than acting and dancing, and everytime I see a show I really cannot see the connection between acting and singing. @gingersnap97 is right, the industry direction is being focused more on acting roles, and you can see it with the MT Shows of these days.

    @vvnstar what voice summer programs you know are great? I have been searching for these programs at College Confidential but still among all of them I still cannot find the one I like the most.


  • NewJeffCTNewJeffCT Registered User Posts: 179 Junior Member
    My daughter's high school in CT has both a Theater and Musical Theater department. Theater does two plays per school year and MT does two musicals (Finian's Rainbow was their small stage show and In the Heights starts tonight as their main stage show). They do have some crossover between departments for the various shows -
    the Theater Dept recently did "Journey to the West" and the lead role of the Monkey King was a MT student. My daughter did say that one of her teachers said that the difference between getting cast in a role or not often comes down to acting - and, this was a MT teacher saying it.
  • EmsDadEmsDad Registered User Posts: 1,508 Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    I think all or almost all BFA programs in Musical Theatre the US include at least 3-4 semesters of acting classes (some BM programs, however, may not). The NAST Accreditation requirements for BFA programs in Musical Theatre include the following stipulations:
    Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities*
    a. Achievement of the highest possible level of performance as an actor-singer. Studies in acting
    shall continue throughout the entire degree program.

    b. Thorough development of skills in acting and skills in dance as appropriate to musical theatre.

    * https://nast.arts-accredit.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/BFA-MusicalTheatre.pdf

    Not all MT programs are accredited by NAST, but I think those that are not still follow the same approach to competencies.

    BM program requirements from NASM include:
    Essential Competencies, Experiences, and Opportunities*
    ...
    c. Thorough development of skills in acting.

    https://nasm.arts-accredit.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/11/J_BM-MusicalTheatre.pdf
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