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What Musical Theatre Colleges Should I consider?

cloewatercloewater 48 replies7 threads Junior Member
Helly, I'm a 17 year old Korean American Junior in highschool, class of 2018. I love musical theatre and want to get into the field in college despite my parents not wanting me to since it's not a steady job, however I love singing and I don't care if it means working as a waitress for the rest of my life.

I have a 3.0 GPA because of two F's I got during my sophmore year where I was struggling with depression and family issues but my grades are now back on track. I am taking the SAT this June and ACT probably this August. My PSAT score was a 1190(Not great but it was my first PSAT and I am currently taking SAT Courses).

I've been in a church/christian choir since I was 8, school choir for 3 years so far in highschool and have no dance experience(which is terrible I know ;-;) I only discovered my passion for musical theatre during my sophmore year and plan on auditioning for my school's musical theatre in the beginning of my senior year.

I need help in finding a list of colleges with a good musical theatre program that offers a BFA. My top schools have been Ithaca College, Juilliard, and Berkelee but I feel as though my chances are not high in those for musical theatre(ESPECIALLY ITHACA AND JUILLIARD PHEW) I live in California so UC Irvine seemed like a good choice except they offer a BA and my gpa isn't enough to get into Irvine without two years of community college, which I am open to except I don't know if I want to go to Irvine. Can people recommened me potential schools that offer a BFA in musical theatre. I am willing to go anywhere and location of the college doesn't matter to me ^^. Thank you guys so much :).
23 replies
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Replies to: What Musical Theatre Colleges Should I consider?

  • Ducky312Ducky312 295 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I'd suggest looking through the lists of colleges. I don't believe Julliard has musical theater. Berklee has a voice performance degree. Do you understand that auditioning for a musical theater spot is very competitive? Is you family supportive of this decision? I would look at all the colleges listed on the top of this forum. It probably would be a wise decision to community college but remember for most MT programs you'd go in as Freshman.
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  • toowonderfultoowonderful 4077 replies68 threads Senior Member
    Have you been in a musical? You mention that you are planning on auditioning for your school's musical this year. If you do a show this year, and enjoy it, I would recommend thinking about a college with a non audition BA theater program where you could learn more, get and get some theater experience. THEN if you are sure you are in love - you can supplement with outside training options.
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  • stagedoormamastagedoormama 871 replies9 threads Member
    @cloewater As stated above, Julliard does not have an MT degree, neither does Berklee. Julliard has a Drama (Acting) degree and Berklee has Vocal Performance. I agree that you should look at the schools in the "Musical Theater Schools" section at the top of the forum. Not all the schools that offer BFA's are listed of course, but it's a good place to start. As toowonderful suggested, you should look at a non-audition Theatre BA so you can get more theatre experience. Getting into a BFA program is extremely competitive. Programs can have hundreds to upwards of 2000 people auditioning for anywhere from 8-24 spots. I would suggest getting more experience- possibly try out for some local community theatre? The idea of theatre and the work required are two quite different things. Get some experience to make sure this is something you truly are passionate about.
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  • sopranomtmomsopranomtmom 459 replies13 threads Member
    Since you live in California UC Irvine is a good option. It does offer a BFA in Musical Theatre, but you audition into the program after your sophomore year. My daughter has a good friend currently a senior BFA student there who transferred from our local community college. It was a good option for her as she, like you, had limited dancing and acting experience. She took dance and acting at the community college and also appeared in the college opera and musical productions which gave her the experience she needed in order to transfer. Cal State Fullerton also offers a BFA, but again it is audition at the end of sophomore year and transferring in is less likely. CSUN does not offer a a BFA, but has a very good Vocal Performance or Theatre program with musical theatre minor opportunities. Arizona State University offers a Bachelor of Music program with an MT emphasis that is heavily voice focused since that sounds like your biggest strength at this point so you might want to do a bit of research on that program as well. And the advice to review the list at the top of this page is a very good start. And with summer coming up I would recommend you look at opportunities in your community for dance and acting training.
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  • mom4bwayboymom4bwayboy 1667 replies28 threads Senior Member
    @cloewater - I second all the advice given above. I think it is in your favor that you are Korean American - many Acting/MT programs are looking for non-caucasian students. That said, I'm curious about your acting/singing training outside of choir. Will you have someone helping you decide on your monologue and song choices and preparation for auditions? Your listed choices are HIGHLY competitive. I agree that: 1. you need to be REALLY sure this is a course you want to pursue - it's grueling. And the path after college is even tougher. 2. You should try to get some dance and acting training over the summer. 3. Look into BA options and non-audition BFAs - if your heart is set on that direction (be sure you understand the difference). 4. Read the threads pinned to the top of the College Confidential Musical Theater Forum page. There is nearly a decade of wisdom shared there from those who have come before you

    Don't mean to scare you, but this ride won't be easy. If you're up for it, there are many here who are willing to help. If you have no parental support, be sure to look for postings from students who have done it on their own. Perhaps the best place to start is the "Final Decisions Background" threads from the last couple years. if those postings don't scare you off, look into the other threads on Things to think about when going for MT, MT college programs, MT/Acting/dance summer opportunities, college coaching avenues.

    Good luck!
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  • MTTwinsinCA2MTTwinsinCA2 36 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Cal State Northridge offers a BA theatre with a minor in MT -- they put on FABULOUS musicals. One of their students just won a major theatre competition here in LA and got an agent from that. There is the fabulous new Valley Performing Arts Center right on campus, plus they have extremely well connected alumni in the theatre, music and film departments -- all of which are great resources for theatre students. You would get in-state tuition and would have the opportunity to work on your dance skills in a less competitive environment, while still getting training in acting and voice -- definitely look at the program. It is an unsung gem around here and being in LA offers great opportunities to explore theatre, TV and film work and to do internships locally.
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  • Notmath1Notmath1 583 replies37 threads Member
    Beware of the Cal State cut/evaluation/audition thing. But all good that you are saying @MTTwinsinCA2
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  • cloewatercloewater 48 replies7 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for all the awesome replies! Everyone responded positively and were extremely helpful and straightfoward, which is amazing. I will reply to each one here in a seperate paragraph ^^. Oh and since everyone mentioned it, I will look through the list of colleges in the forum, I just wanted to know if people on the forum can help narrow down my options a bit with my situation which is why I made this post ^^.

    @Ducky312 My family are willing to support whatever I do even if it's music related thankfully, though I'd have to say it's not their number one choice. I was previously stuck between choosing vocal performance and mt so that's why I still have Berklee in my few colleges I know I want to apply to even if it's not mt, sorry I didn't make that clear ;-;. I had no idea Juilliard didn't have a MT degree though, so that's very useful to know! I understand that musical theatre is extremely competitive but honestly, I still want to go for it despite having a lack of private vocal lessons and dance lessons :).

    @toowonderful No I have not done any musicals to this point, and I am trying out for the school musical when the next school year starts. I was planning to do a lot more extensive college searching afterwards since how can I say I love doing musical theatre when I haven't even done it yet? I just have a gut feeling that I will love it which is why I wanted to start searching early, though I understand what you mean by getting more theatre experience to make I sure actually love it. If for some reason, I find that musical theatre is not my field to pursue after the musical, I will most likely look into vocal performance. I was considering community college for two years to help with getting more theatre experience though I haven't decided if that will be my route yet :). Non audition BA programs for experience sounds like another great option but I was wondering if you can transfer if you do take to route, to other colleges with an audition based BA or BFA.

    @stagedoormama I had no idea Juilliard had no mt program and Berklee is what I wanted to apply to in case I didn't get into an MT college, I never clarified that though so it's my fault ;-;. I regret wanting to do musical theatre at this moment since it's so late into my highschool years and I wish I had more time to get more experience. I completely agree with getting more musical experience to make sure this is something I really want to do since it is super competitive, I'm just worried I don't have enough time. I did search around my area for community theatres I can audition for but to be honest, I have no idea what exactly I'm looking for.

    @sopranomtmom Thank you for the options! UC Irvine is slowly creeping to my top colleges list XD since I now know that I can do two year community college and then audition for the BFA Musical Theatre program at Irvine. It sounds like what your friend's daughter did is a very possible route for me since community college will give me opportunities to actually gain more experience. Arizona State sounds very promising as well, thank you so much! :) Meanwhile, I will see if I can convince my parents a bit further for some dancing/acting/vocal lessons.

    @mom4bwayboy Outside of choir, I have taken a few vocal lessons and have done a solo in a wider church event but outside of choir, not as much sadly. My parent were extremely against music as a career and didn't give me many opportunities until my sophmore year when my grades began to drop and I finially convinced them this was something I wanted to do. I do have some who can help me prepare with monologues and song choices etc. My school drama teacher has a lot of knowlege on musicals and my not-really-vocal-coach-but-kinda-is has done musicals and performance before and she's offered to help me with musical theatre as well ^^. I will spend my time reading the top threads too :). I understand that this is extrememly hards and I should probably do what my parent said and just aim for a medical degree and become a doctor, but I feel like this is something I actually want to do no matter how hard it takes. Musical Theatre had become the one thing I truly loved and after seing my first musical, I was hooked. I got my parents to let me go to New York and see three amazing broadway musicals, I made some theatre friends as school I never knew existed before I became interested in theatre, I just loved it. If I can at least try and know that I tried my best for musical theatre, it will be worth it for me :).

    @MTTwinsinCA2 and @Notmath1 Cal State Northridge sounds like a very good option! I look more into their BA program, thought I was hoping for a major in mt instead of a minor, but it sounds extremely fun and promising :). I have no idea what the Cal State cut/evaluation/audition thing is though so I'll search it up :P.

    @EmsDad Thank you so much for the great resources! I will look into pruchasing Mary Anna's book and her videos, along with the many threads in this amazing website. BFA programs are extremely selective, like I mentioned in one of my replies earlier, if I'm willing to audition and try for these programs with such a low acceptance rate, I may as well become a doctor XD, but musical theatre is really amazing and I just have this feeling that I want to continue pushing forward and do it. I unfortunately don't have the funds for a college audition coach but I do have a few people I can look to for advice thankfully.

    Thank you all again! :)
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  • Ducky312Ducky312 295 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @cloewater sure you can go for it. It's very difficult road to navigate even for a seasoned performer. Do your research. It's a very difficult and competitive process. @EmsDad gives lots of valuable advice. Also The Boston Conservatory at Berklee does confer a BFA MT degree. But it is a dance heavy program. If you can afford it a coach would probably be a good idea because of your limited experience. They can help you craft a list of schools, choose monologues and vocal selections.
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  • mom4bwayboymom4bwayboy 1667 replies28 threads Senior Member
    edited April 2017
    Yes, @cloewater! You CAN do this! It just won't be easy and the timeline you are looking at for getting into programs Fall 2018 is WAY more accelerated than you may be anticipating. Trying out for HS musical in the fall and then "deciding" if this is the route you really want to take will be too late for the vast majority of 2018 admissions. Ideally, you would be prepping for auditions and prescreen videos this summer (be sure to get a handle on what "prescreen videos" means). You would also be writing essays and figuring out which schools you want to apply to. The applications generally open in August/September (some earlier or rolling) and the deadline for many programs is early November and December 2017. This includes many scholarship applications. Prescreens need to be in even earlier. In a perfect world, the heavy lifting of prescreens and applications would be done by early/mid October so you can strategically schedule spots for auditions. There are some programs with later deadlines, but if you plan to be in fall musical you will be VERY busy during (one of) the most stressful times in this process.

    This is part of why many folks here are recommending BAs and non-audition BFAs. The application timeline for this process is unlike any other, and if your school counselor and drama/vocal teachers have never guided someone through it, they will NOT have a clue - even if the "know a lot about musical theater. Your same-age friends and most of the adults in your life will think you're nuts when you tell them what needs to happen and when. Waiting until fall to get this ball rolling will be too late. I would strongly urge you to ask teachers for letters of recommendation NOW - so they can be working on them over the summer and you can have them in hand when the school year starts. You will want all the nitty gritty stuff to be taken care of before the other seniors in your class start inundating counselors and teachers with help for college apps. In a normal MT application timeline, you will have your apps mostly complete and submitted just before your classmates start panicking about deadlines. Then you will be in the throws of auditions when they are starting to get acceptances.

    Definitely read Dennard's I got In ASAP.

    You can do this, but you need to educate yourself about the process now. Or follow the path of becoming a doctor if you can see yourself being happy doing that. It will be easier in many respects. Only pursue this career path if you cannot see yourself surviving doing anything else and are not afraid of really hard work. Take a good look at how tough you are in the face of adversity and how determined you are to pick yourself up and start again, and again, and again.
    edited April 2017
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  • KTVoiceKTVoice 196 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Perhaps you can look and see if you can find a summer program where you can do a musical. There seem to be a lot where you can do a show in a couple of weeks. Not the same as a full on high school musical, but it will give you some idea of the experience.

    Good luck. I admire your tenacity. There are always great stories of people who found their passion late in high school and went on to good schools and successful careers. One thing I hear from professionals all the time is the biggest skill you need is the persistence to keep on trying.
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  • MTTwinsinCA2MTTwinsinCA2 36 replies4 threads Junior Member
    I don't think CSUN has the same cut system as say CSUF, but the MT minor probably has regular evaluations. All good questions for you to evaluate. Not sure where you are in CA but you may also want to check out the theatre depts CSU Chico and SDSU.
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  • theatremom10theatremom10 183 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @artskids I'd love to see that manual. What a great idea!
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  • artskidsartskids 1529 replies22 threads Senior Member
    @theatermom If you pm me your email, I will send it to you once we have updated it. It's nothing earth-shattering (and certainly not as comprehensive as CC); it is meant for parents who have never heard of CC and have no idea how to approach this crazy BFA process!
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  • MReaderMReader 69 replies1 threads Junior Member
    As you noted, people here are positive and supportive of pursuing your dreams. I'm going to play devils advocate - and amateur psychologist - and ask you to think if this really is your dream?

    It seems to me that you love music, enjoy singing, and are discovering an interest in musical theatre. But it's a far jump from that to committing to a BFA program. @EmsDad gave a fantastic outline of the level of research and audition things involved. If you go through the threads, the books, the online resources with an open mind you'll have a better understanding of what's involved - both in getting in and what it's like in that training.

    Along with some soul-searching I think you need to do some research and look for a non-audition BA program where you can chose to major in music and/or theatre. There you can develop your talents and get better in touch with your next steps. Meanwhile, find ways to do community theatre, voice lessons, dance classes, acting camps to learn and grow as a performer. Good luck!
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  • NewJeffCTNewJeffCT 215 replies8 threads Junior Member
    as a side note, the OP is from southern California and has Ithaca on his list. While it's an excellent school for MT, the weather in upstate NY will be a complete culture shock to him. I live in Connecticut, which has some tough winters, and spent my freshman year in college back in the Dark Ages (engineering major, not MT) in upstate NY and it was tough for even me - double the snow and much windier than CT.Upstate NY is also the least sunny place in the continental US. Not to discourage him from Ithaca, but if he likes sunny southern California, he might want to look a bit farther South. Even NYC, PA and NJ would be a significant improvement.
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