My daughter (rising senior) loves participating in musical theatre productions. She’s been lucky to find a local theatre that puts on several very high-quality productions a year and where she usually gets a decent (but not a leading) role.
As we’ve been trying to hone in on a college list, she’s realized that she’d like to continue to participate in theatre in college. But, she doesn’t necessarily want to be a theatre major, and she definitely doesn’t want to participate in the hyper-competitive process of auditioning for musical theatre schools. But, she’d love to go to a school where the school puts on 1-2 musicals a year and where non-majors have a decent change to participate and even be cast in decent roles.
From my internet research so far, it just seems like you need to do a deep dive into each individual school’s website, look at what productions they’ve put on in the past, and see if non-majors are allowed to audition for roles. That being said, I’d love to hear about any schools that folks in this group know about that might be worth investigating. (And, if you look at my prior post about my daughter, you’ll see that she has some other criteria too, but here, I’d love to just hear about schools which offer performance opportunities for non-theatre majors, even if they don’t match some of her other criteria. She may be flexible about some of her other criteria to get an opportunity to participate in musical theatre.)
You may want to look at large state schools. My child is a student at the University of Michigan, and there are MANY opportunities for non-arts students to participate in the arts in a club setting. There are “club” groups for dance, music, acting, and so on.
Thanks! My daughter is pretty laser focused on musical theatre productions, although a school that offers lot of art-focused clubs would, of course be an added bonus. Michigan is an awesome school in so many ways, but it has one of the most competitive musical theatre programs in the country, so it probably wouldn’t be a great fit for my daughter who isn’t competitive at that level!
Purdue! There are a couple of theater groups on campus, some more competitive than others. Her group, the Purdue Performance Collaborative is much more low key, although they still hold auditions. They do at least two shows/year.
I wonder if you might want to post in the music theater major forum here in CC. It is under “majors…” I think you are wise to a “deep dive” exploring each school!
I thought about that, but my daughter doesn’t want to major in musical theatre. So I wasn’t sure if that was the right audience? My guess, based on my limited research, is that schools that actually don’t offer a specific major in musical theatre may be better bets for what she’s looking for, as, most likely, if a school offers musical theatre as a major, the shows will be too competitive for a non-major to have much chance to participate. But, maybe that group would be knowledgeable about those types of schools too.
I have an S23 who also wants to participate and not major in theatre. Also wants engineering, so as we find engineering schools we are looking into those theatre opportunities too. I don’t have any solid advice for you yet though, sorry!
I imagine it would be helpful for non-majors. I know the music major forum is good for non-majors who want to continue via EC;s, as well.
Sounds like @momofboiler1’s suggestion of Purdue might be a great one for your daughter!
I moved it. Even though your daughter does not want to major in it, I believe that the extremely knowledgeable users in that sub forum will gladly aid a non-major on her journey.
Is she interested in a big state school or an LAC?
My niece, also a rising senior, is in the exact same position as your daughter. She’s finding some smaller liberal arts colleges seem to have great musical theater programs that anyone can be a part of. So far Furman, Davidson, and University of Richmond have made her list.
The other poster described it better, but this is what I was trying to explain that Michigan has. There are high level productions done through clubs and organizations, outside of the MT/drama programs. You are going to find more of those opportunities at large state schools like Purdue and Michigan.
There are a lot of schools that have extracurricular musicals. I think it would help to narrow down the suggestions if you shared a basic academic profile of your daughter so we get the right level of college selectivity, as well as other college selection criteria…such as geographic region, setting, size, etc.
For starters there are extracurricular musicals at Skidmore, Tufts, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, MIT, Univ. of Pittsburgh, Bard, Oberlin, Boston College, Hofstra, Yale, Connecticut College, Gettysburg, Goucher, Vassar, Barnard, William & Mary, Indiana U, Boston University.
I was going to chime in for OP to check out Indiana U. My daughter is a rising freshman CS major who also has 9 years of viola under her belt and wants to continue with it in some capacity. I haven’t researched the theater options, but I did see that they encourage non-music majors to participate in musical groups/classes.
IU’s Jacobs School of Music is the #2 music school in the country, so that was a pleasant surprise. I would have expected groups & classes to be limited to music majors. So I would guess that non-theater majors are also welcome to explore joining their productions!
A couple of comments:
–I’m guessing that many different colleges could fit the bill. I’d start by finding a group of schools that are academic, financial, social (and anything else you care about) fits and then asking about musical theater.
–My D graduated from Lafayette College and was very involved in theater - in fact she graduated with a theater minor. I believe they did one musical and one drama each semester. They did have auditions but I never got the sense it was hyper-competitive – it sounded to me like an inclusive group. She loved her experience there. Probably not where you go if you want to be a professional MT actor (although one acquaintance did go on for a Masters (?) at a Conservatory and performed on Broadway where my D went backstage to see her). I’m guessing many LACs would be similarly inclusive. I do remember hearing that Muhlenberg has a particularly strong theater program.
My daughter just finished her freshman year at Penn State and had a great experience participating in 2 different theater groups on campus. The theater majors have their own productions so these groups were mainly non-majors and their shows were fantastic. I would imagine other large state flagships would have the same…somewhere where there is a large enough student body to support multiple groups and shows.
Ahh, got it. Thanks for the clarification! That sounds intriguing.
She’s got around a 3.85 unweighted GPA, 4.45 weighted. She’s waiting for SAT scores right now, but had a pretty high PSAT score (above a 1400), so hoping for good test scores. She’s open to most geographic regions, but ideally would like to be in or near a city. Something fairly remote (like a Grinnell or a Kenyon) would likely not work for her. Ideally, she’d like a larger school, but she has liked a couple of smaller LACs, so she’d be open to that, I think. But, everything being equal, a medium or large school would be preferred (5000 students or more).
Of the schools you suggested, she’s got on her list already (before we started thinking about trying to find schools that offered musical theatre for non-majors): Tufts, Boston College, Barnard, Indiana, and Boston University. I don’t think it’s worth her time to apply to Ivy League schools, or MIT. I think Tufts and Barnard will already be a pretty big reach for her!