Music Theatre Performance

  • Stage performance
  • Performers on stage
  • Actors on stage
  • Performance on stage
  • Swing performance

“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

Western Michigan University offers an intensive course of study in musical theatre performance that culminates with a BFA degree and the opportunity to showcase in New York City for significant Agents and Casting Directors.  The program offers extensive professional training in all areas of acting, voice, and dance.  The program endeavors to train actors who sing and dance.  In addition, students will participate in a two-year musical theatre performance workshop series of classes that synthesize the training into a marketable skill that students will utilize for their entire careers.  The focus of the program is preparing emerging talent to enter and compete in the Broadway market.
 
The course of study provides students the opportunity to receive four years of private vocal instruction, training in jazz, tap and ballet, three years of acting training, musicianship, as well as courses in the history of musical theatre, audition techniques, stagecraft, directing and numerous electives available only to MTP students as the only cross-departmental program in the School of Fine Arts (theatre, music and dance).
The Department of Theatre produces two or three musicals each year in a rotating repertoire that includes contemporary shows, traditional classics, dance-based pieces, and new and original works.  Students are also encouraged to audition for the Theatre Department’s straight shows and the student-directed footlight series, as well as the School of Music’s operas and the Department of Dance’s concert series.
 

Students should consult the WMU catalog for course requirements.

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Preparing your audition

To complete the application for the BFA Music Theatre Performance Program, you will need to :

  •  Apply for the program on the getacceptd.com website:  https://getacceptd.com

  •  Upload a current digital photo and an acting resume
  • Provide email addresses for two references (teachers, directors) who know your work
  • Know your current GPA and SAT/ACT scores
  • Upload a 30-second vocal audition – this can be a cut from any music theatre repertoire.

Your uploaded materials on getacceptd.com serve as a prescreen for the WMU MTP auditions. Once you have been approved for an appointment, your audition will be confirmed.

Audition format

It is in your best interest to attend one of our three in-person audition opportunities. You can schedule to attend Chicago Unified Auditions (February 3 and 4, 2020) or audition on campus on February 21, 2020, or March 13, 2020.

 Candidates will perform two memorized one-minute vocal cuts from musical theatre repertoire that contrast in vocal quality (classical, belt, pop/rock) to show versatility. You will be stopped after one-minute.

 Please avoid selections with overly complicated accompaniment (Sondheim, Guettel, LaChiusa, Jason Robert Brown, etc). An accompanist will be provided at the WMU on-campus auditions and taped accompaniment, lead sheets, or a cappella singing will not be permitted. Prepare pieces that show off what you do best. At off-campus auditions like Unified Auditions and Chicago auditions at Theatre Wit, an accompanist will not be provided and you will need to provide recorded accompaniment.

 Have your music prepared in a book or binder, double-sided, and in the correct key. Music will not be transposed on the spot. Clearly mark your starting & stopping points, any key, time, or feel changes in pencil or with a highlighter. Please remove any markings that aren't relevant to how the accompanist plays (i.e., breath marks, diction, etc).

 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.

 At on-campus auditions and Unifieds, if you are being considered, you will be taught a jazz and a ballet 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 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.

If you are not able to attend one of the three designated in-person auditions because you live more than 200 miles from our campus, you may upload an audition video. It must contain the two vocal selections and monologue as indicated above, as well as some example of your dance skills – either a sequence from a production or just demonstrate your abilities. 

If you have any other reason you cannot audition for us in person, please email the director of our Music Theatre Performance program for permission to submit digitally: jay.berkow@wmich.edu.

 

Audition checklist

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 three-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.

Tips

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. 

SAMPLE RESUME

Scholarships

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.

Explore Scholarships

Alumni

Alumni from the WMU Music Theatre Department have been seen on Broadway in West Side Story, Jersey Boys, Chicago, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Shrek the Musical, Spamalot, The Wedding Singer, Wicked and Gypsy. Alumni have also been seen on national tours of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Drowsy Chaperone, Hairspray, MAMMA MIA!, Rent, Seussical the Musical, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Our graduates can also be found at Cedar Point, Walt Disney World and on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. 

For further information on Department of Theatre majors or the minor, email Debra Gambino, academic advisor.