Musical Theatre Frequently Asked Questions
What Musical Theatre Programs are offered at James Madison University?
JMU offers programs in Musical Theatre through both The School of Theatre and Dance (BA), and the School of Music (BM). Use the resources on this webpage to learn more about the program offered through the School of Theatre and Dance. For more information on the BM program, contact JMU's School of Music -http://www.jmu.edu/music.
Do both programs offer private voice lessons?
Yes. The BA degree requires one year of small group voice lessons (including a weekly performance lab), and two years of private voice lessons. Students are encouraged to continue private voice study in their senior year.
Will an audition for the BA program be considered for admission to the BM program or vice versa?
No. The programs hold separate auditions. People typically choose the program that is most suited to their needs, although some students choose to audition for both programs and then determine, if accepted, which one is best suited to their abilities and goals.
How many students does the BA Musical Theatre Concentration accept each year?
In order for each student to receive maximum personal attention we aim for a freshman Musical Theatre class of 8 – 10 students.
Do you offer scholarships for incoming students?
The College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Theatre & Dance have partial tuition scholarships available for incoming freshmen. An audition/ interview is required to be considered for these scholarships. The School of Theatre and Dance also offers partial tuition scholarships for continuing students in the Theatre, Dance, and Musical Theatre Concentrations. Go to http://www.jmu.edu/theatre/tscholarships.htm for information.
When will I know if I have been accepted into the Musical Theatre Concentration?
In order to be accepted into the Musical Theatre Concentration you must also be accepted academically to JMU. We notify all prospective Musical Theatre students who are accepted academically into JMU about their acceptance to the Musical Theatre Concentration by April 1st.
If I am not accepted into the BA Musical Theatre Concentration at JMU, but am accepted to JMU academically and decide to attend may I still audition for musical theatre productions?
Yes, all JMU students (regardless of major or concentration) may audition for theatrical productions at JMU.
If I audition for the Musical Theatre Concentration will I also be considered for admission to the Theatre Concentration?
Students who wish to be considered for both programs must audition for the Musical Theatre program, fulfill its audition requirements, and indicate when registering to audition that they would ALSO like to be considered for the Theatre Program. Only those students who indicate they would like to be considered for BOTH programs will be considered for the Theatre Concentration if they are not admitted to the Musical Theatre Program. Admission to both programs is competitive.
Can I apply to the Musical Theatre Concentration before applying for admission the University?
No. Although you may schedule your audition before completing the application for academic admission to the University, you must complete the application for academic admission BEFORE your audition/portfolio review/interview. Admission to JMU itself involves online application directly to the undergraduate Office of Admissions (http://www.jmu.edu/admissions/).
Do you accept transfer students into the BA Musical Theatre Concentration?
Yes, on a space available basis. Current JMU students in other concentrations and majors, and interested applicants from other schools are given the opportunity to audition for the Musical Theatre Concentration during audition dates designated for potential transfer students.
If I’ve had a lot of dance training will I need to take beginning level classes?
All BA Musical Theatre Concentrators are required to take a three-semester jazz dance sequence and an additional dance skills class (although you are strongly encouraged to take more and most students take one or two dance classes a semester). You may be able to test out of a dance level, but only at the discretion of the dance instructor and the coordinator of the Musical Theatre Concentration.
Do I have to take classes in music theory and piano?
Students in the BA program are required to take two semesters of Keyboarding (MUS 100 and MUS 101), and one semester of Music Theory and Ear Training (MUS 143 and MUS 141). These courses are the same courses that BM music majors take. Students who enter JMU with significant prior piano/ music theory training may be allowed to test into higher level courses. This will be discussed with the coordinator of the Musical Theatre Concentration at the end of your freshman year.
Can I take more acting, music, or dance classes than those required?
Of course! Students in the BA Musical Theatre Concentration are actively encouraged to enroll in as many skill development courses as possible during their time at JMU. Suggested courses include: dance classes each semester, upper level acting classes, movement for the actor, voice for the stage, directing, musical theatre audition class, diction for singers, and university choirs, among others.
Is it possible to double major?
Yes, but it is difficult. The Musical Theatre Concentration is a credit intensive concentration. Some students who come to JMU with AP, IB, and Dual Enrollment credit do choose to pursue a double major (School of Media Arts and Design, English, and Communications are the most popular) and are able to complete both majors within four years. Others choose to minor in another area (Dance, English, History, and Non-Profit Studies are the most popular). Many students who want to double major choose to pursue the Theatre Concentration which is a less credit intensive concentration.
Is it possible to study abroad?
Yes, students in the Musical Theatre Concentration often choose to study abroad either in the summer or during the regular academic year.
Do you provide summer work for your students?
We highly encourage our students to audition and interview for work at other summer theatres. JMU students attend and are successful at SETC, NETC, StrawHat, UPTA, and Outdoor Drama auditions and interviews, and most graduate from JMU with professional credits on their resumes, gaining valuable real world experience while they are still in school. Among the venues where JMU students and recent alums have worked are: Adirondack Theatre Festival, NY; Busch Gardens, VA; Central Piedmont Summer Theatre, NC; Cortland Repertory Theatre, NY; Cumberland County Playhouse, TN; Flat Rock Playhouse, NC; Granbury Opera House, TX; Gretna Theatre, PA; Highlands Playhouse, NC; Horn in the West, NC; The Lost Colony, NC; Mac-Haydn Theatre, NY; Maples Repertory Theatre, MO; Papermill Theatre Company, NH; Peachtree State Summer Theatre, GA; Shawnee Playhouse, PA; Texas Family Musicals, TX; Texas Musical Drama, TX; Theatre Barn, MN; Theatre West Virginia, WV; Theatre by the Sea, RI; Toby’s Dinner Theatre, MD; Trumpet in the Land, OH; Way Off Broadway, IA; Weathervane Playhouse, OH; Western Playhouse, MO. JMU students may also choose to audition for the summer Children’s Playshop, JMU’s professional summer theatre for children.
Are your graduates successful?
Although there are (of course) no guarantees, JMU graduates have appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, national and international tours, cruise ships, and at regional theatres from coast to coast and around the world. JMU grads are currently appearing, or have recently appeared in: Annie, Avenue Q, Book of Mormon, Catch Me if You Can, Dog Fight, Far from Heaven, Jersey Boys, Lion King, Mamma Mia, Million Dollar Quartet, Rock of Ages, War Horse, Beauty and the Beast, A Chorus Line, Drowsy Chaperone, Fame, The Full Monty, Grease, Jersey Boys, Joseph and the… Dreamcoat, Les Miserables, The Producers, Riverdance, Shrek, and Urinetown,among others, and are successful in regional theatre (Actors Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, The Actors Studio, The Barter Theatre, Berkley Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare, Charleston Stage Company, Forum Theatre, Keegan Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Paper Mill Playhouse, Second City, Signature Theatre, Virginia Repertory Theatre, Walnut Street Theatre, etc…), and in TV and film (Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order: CI, Mercy, Bored to Death, Saturday Night Live, As the World Turns, The Guiding Light, Last Comic Standing, Mona Lisa Smile,Gods and Generals, etc…).
Do you have a Senior Showcase?
Yes. We produce a senior showcase in the Washington DC area each spring. Follow the link to go to the showcase website:http://jmustad.wix.com/jamesmadisonshowcase#!home/mainPage.
Do you invite Guest Artists to campus to work with students?
Yes. We have an active guest artist program. We bring agents, managers, casting directors, producers, directors, choreographers and other theatre professionals to campus on a regular basis to work with students in a workshop setting, and for extended residencies. Over the course of the year it is not unusual for students to have the opportunity to work with 20 - 30 guest artists.
How many productions do you present in a year?
The School of Theatre and Dance produces a Mainstage season of three plays, one large-scale musical and one smaller musical or musical revue. In the Studio Theatre, a flexible black box space, we offer eight to ten student-produced full-length plays and musicals and a Director's Festival of approximately fifteen to twenty 10-minute plays. Students are also eligible to audition for paid positions in the Children's Playshop shows produced every summer. The Playshop tours another show with separate auditions during the regular academic year. In addition, three Mainstage dance concerts and three student dance concerts in the Earlynn Miller Dance Performance Theatre are produced each year.
Can I audition and be cast in shows as a freshman, or am I required to wait?
In the School of Theatre of Dance we believe that experience provides one of the greatest learning opportunities. Freshmen are encouraged to audition for Studio and Mainstage productions and many are cast on both stages.
Will I be in competition with Theatre graduate students for performance, design, and technical opportunities?
No. The JMU Theatre and Musical Theatre programs are entirely undergraduate. Undergraduates have unhindered opportunities, including playing leading roles and designing Mainstage productions, in all the skill areas.
What kinds of hands-on experience in productions is available to students?
The School of Theatre and Dance offers production experience in two different and complementary contexts.
Mainstage and Faculty-Directed Studio Theatre Productions are directed by faculty and guest artists. Advanced students are often offered opportunities to design or technical direct on these productions. Students may also work as assistant designers or directors. Acting roles are played by students and all shows there are student stage managed. Students build and run these shows under faculty supervision.
The Studio Theatre also provides a context in which students can experiment with what they have learned in classes and through faculty and guest directed experiences in their own student-produced and student-directed productions. Each semester the faculty and members of the student theatre organization (Stratford Players) vote to determine the strongest production proposals (which include production budget, concept, design team, publicity, etc.) to produce in the following semester. A faculty member functions as an advisor to the director and team on the proposal, rehearsals, and production process, but all production responsibilities are fulfilled by students. The student directed Studio Theatre productions provide extensive practical experience for those students who choose to participate in it. Successful work there makes students eligible for Mainstage design and production opportunities as well as some of the School's scholarships.
What student theatre organizations operate within the School of Theatre and Dance?
Stratford Players, the student theatre producing organization
This organization produces shows in the Studio Theatre and sponsors a number of other activities such as guest artist appearances, workshops, and 24-hour theatre experiences.
JMU Student Chapter of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT)
One of the relatively few student chapters of the USITT in the USA, this organization coordinates design/tech activities and enjoys financial support from the School for students to attend the annual conference of the USITT, where many have successfully procured summer employment at theatres around the country.
Alpha Psi Omega (APO), JMU's chapter of the national honorary theatre society
This organization creates social, educational, and community service opportunities for theatre students.
What’s the difference between JMU’s program and conservatory or BFA programs?
At JMU we feel strongly that the undergraduate years be balanced between skill development in the major, and obtaining a broad base of knowledge about the world in which we live. We think that this broad base of knowledge makes for strong actors, artists, and citizens.
Our BA program requires a total of 120 credits: 58 credits in the major (however, most take well beyond the required credits and coursework in the major), up to 44 credit in general education & philosophy (depending on AP, IB, Dual Enrollment credit), 0 - 14 credits of foreign language (depending on placement), and 4 - 18 credits of electives (which can be taken within or outside of the major concentration). Most of the students in the Musical Theatre Concentration graduate with far more than 120 credits, with most of the additional credits being in Musical Theatre, Theatre, Music, and Dance coursework.
Generally speaking, many BFA programs do not require as much general education as we do in the BA at JMU. However, some do and it is important research the specifics of what each program requires and has to offer in order to find the right program for you. Students in our BA Musical Theatre concentration are highly motivated, and balance their academic course work with their skills based classes, and production work. Most go on to pursue successful careers in the performing arts industry.
Accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of DanceAccredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre