Is Musical Theatre Your Calling?

MajoringInMusic.com spoke with Trish Causey, a musical theatre writer, workshop presenter, and host of two online radio shows featuring Broadway national tour actors and issues. Our goal? To get someone immersed in the world of musical theatre to offer tips for students who dream of a career on the stage.

Equipped with a background as a performer, voice teacher, and coach, Causey pulls no punches when it comes to talking about careers in musical theatre. She is a firm believer in being open and candid with students to help them hone the skills necessary to gain a chance at success in this highly competitive field.

Is Musical Theatre for You?

According to Causey, you may have had a role — even the lead — in your school musical, but majoring in musical theatre takes what was fun and exciting in high school to a higher plane. It demands high-level training in voice, acting, movement, and dance. You must learn to tell a story through your entire body, including your voice. And you have to develop a broad range of styles.

She emphasizes the need to be “truly versatile and extremely talented and well-trained in many areas in order to qualify for available roles. Once you are out in the real world, the degree you’ve gotten and where you’ve gotten it from won’t matter as much as how versatile your skills are.”

“Every performer is a ‘type,'” she continues. “You need to ‘get’ that you are a product at any audition and that you need to be the product that they are looking for.” By understanding your type, she adds, you will save yourself from preparing for auditions that won’t pan out as well as from unnecessary rejection. Causey is blunt about the fact that, “What you look like will also determine the roles you can get.”

Guidance for Choosing a School

According to Causey, if you enroll in a school as a voice major, you will train in classical voice. If you major in theatre, you will focus on the theatre but not the singing or dance aspects of musical theatre. She therefore is a proponent of finding a musical theatre program that fits who you are and what you want to do.

“Choose a school where teachers not only have experience in musical theatre but also keep a hand and a toe in it,” she urges.

Causey has worked with many students and knows about far more who tend to narrow their application choices down to a few highly competitive schools located mostly on the east coast. These schools, she says, get thousands of applications, audition a few hundred students, and select 60 – 70 for their freshman classes. She therefore urges students to open their thinking to include other schools across the U.S. with strong musical theatre programs.

Causey also suggests that students consider the range of career paths, aside from lead and chorus roles, that are associated with musical theatre. “Lighting, choreography, backstage…these are all necessary aspects of any production but are often overlooked,” she says. “Be sure to check which schools offer these options as well.”

“Finding the right schools to apply to,” Causey cautions,”requires that you be realistic about your budget. Don’t stress about the ‘top five’ schools. Who says they’re the top five anyway? A lot of people work in the field and get their start that way. You can also take some of your basic classes at a community college if you need to, so that you can stockpile some money for when you move to a bigger city or can afford a stronger school. And do look at options all over the country, not just in New York City. Denver, Houston, Raleigh — these are just some of the cities with opportunities just waiting for you!”

Mentors: A Must!

“This business of musical theatre is a privilege to be part of,” Causey shares. “To make it easier, you need mentors in the ‘know’ who can be honest — brutally honest — with anyone who wants to do this as a career. You also need mentors to help you find your material.”

She underscores the need to find mentors who can work with you on vocals, acting and dance as well as on how to dress, communicate, and interact in interviews and auditions. Your mentors should be able to tailor your training to your needs and style. This is important for applying to school as well as for professional opportunities. “Find mentors with a foot in the musical theatre world, who know what you are in for,” urges Causey. “They should be able to help you with the business side of musical theatre as well.”

But don’t expect your mentors to set goals for you — that’s your job. Causey, in fact, will not work with anyone who hasn’t already set clear goals for themselves.

The Value of Summer Musical Theatre Programs

Causey encourages anyone who thinks they may want to major in musical theatre to immerse themselves in summer programs (see sidebar, “Summer Musical Theatre Programs”). “These give you a chance to see your competition, to learn more about your musical theatre ‘type’, and to hone your understanding of this field,” she advises. “You may be shocked at age 15 to find out what’s it’s really about, but it’s good reality-testing. You may do nothing but rehearse and train. But that’s what your real life will be about! So it’s best to get clear now. This kind of immersion will let you know if you’ll thrive in this world — or not. It’s cheaper to find out if this is the world you want to be a part of, before you go off to college and use your family’s savings or take out loans that you’ll be paying back for years to come. You will be able to ask yourself: Do I love it enough to be exhausted after 18 hours of work each day, and still want to wake up the next day and do it all over again?”


Trish Causey is an award-winning composer and radio show host. She is a professional theatre writer who launched Musical Theatre Magazine. Causey was a judge for  the National Music Theater Competition sponsored by NATS in May, 2012. She also consults and teaches group workshops and private lessons.

Comments

  1. Veronica

    I have so many questions and problems about this subject. Musical theatre is my biggest passion and I really want to be a broadway actress, but I have a huge problem: I’m 16 and I haven’t had a chance to train myself at all until now so do I stand a chance, if I start now? I’m entering a Finnish high school of arts this year and following 4 years (3 years of high school, 1 year exchange student program in America). I’ll have time to train myself, before I continue to college.

    • We suggest you read all of the musical theatre articles on MajoringInMusic.com to learn more about what it takes to pursue musical theatre as a career. There are three major skills areas required, and training typically begins at a young age. If you are still wanting to explore this field after reading the other articles, we highly encourage you to meet with a musical theatre professional teacher who can assess your raw talent directly, and advise you on what to study first. We also encourage summer musical theater programs for anyone considering studying musical theatre in college. Even if it doesn’t seem like the right academic and career path, we hope you’ll find ways to enjoy musical theatre as a hobby.

  2. Annabelle

    I am going into 10th grade and I love singing and acting and dancing (but I’m not that good at it). I am in a choir outside of school that is very professional and I do as many shows as I can in school. I don’t have the extra time to take dance lessons or acting lessons with everything else I am doing. I have two questions. Should I be trying to make time for dancing so it is as strong as my acting and singing? I really want to become an actress on Broadway but my parents don’t approve of me going to college for musical theatre, would I be able to major in something else and still make it?

    • Musical theatre is all about the triple threat: singing, acting, dancing. All are important skills for getting roles. We hope you’ll read this article about dance in musical theatre: “Dance Training for Musical Theatre Students.” We also hope you’ll read and share with your parents this article: “Studying Musical Theatre with a Music Emphasis” to get a better sense of college-level musical theatre training. Do all performers on Broadway and in touring companies major in musical theatre? No. But if this is truly your “calling” and you major in another field, you’ll need to find other ways to get the skills, opportunities, and exposure to those scouting for new talent. By the way, there are excellent summer music programs that offer musical theatre training – you can find a number of them on our Summer Music Camps & Programs page.

  3. Stephani

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m entering my senior year of high school and I am planning on majoring in musical theatre in college. I’ve been in many plays throughout my life both in school and in my local community theater, and I’ve had a good handful of leads. I’ve been taking voice lessons for almost five years now by a well known teacher and have grown strong vocal abilities. I’ve had minimal acting lessons, but I’ve been involved in theater for my whole life and have learned a lot from all the people I have met. My weakest point is dance, as I have only taken a year of lessons in a studio. I’m planning on doing it again next year, but I’m not sure which classes I should take. Which dance classes do you most recommend for preparation for college? Do you have any tips for how I could build my “third threat” to be as strong as my other two? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you

  4. Miranda

    I’m a soon to be senior in high school and I’m interested In majoring in musical theatre. I’ve participated in three school productions, have directed one of those; I’ve taken singing lessons, though sadly I’ve not learned to read off sheet music and I haven’t trained in the musical theatre style due to the fact that I figured out I wanted to work towards MT last year; and I’ve taken dance classes, but they’ve been jazz classes and hip hop classes, so my knowledge is limited. Is there anything that I could do in this final year to improve my chances of getting into musical theatre programs, or is there anything I’d have to catch up on before I apply?

    The things I’ve listed above make it sound like I have a lot of experience with dance, and acting, but I’ve only begun to picture this as a hobby, and subsequently a career, in the past year and Ive only been in small roles inside my school productions, so I feel like I got on the train a little too late to catch up to all the people who know this is their calling. I want to do musical theater because I love the atmosphere, and I love being on stage, but I’m scared that this isn’t a field that I’d love in the long run (though that’s what I feel for all my options right now), Do you know of any way I could get closer to ridding myself of this doubt?

  5. Diana

    My question in regards to musical theatre is way different then any of the other ones so far. My daughter is only 7 and loves musical theater. She is in theater classes which at this age is fun. She also is in a choir. She isn’t currently in dance classes but wants to go back to taking them. My question is she is only 7 and can’t do everything right now. Do you think it’s more important to be in dance classes or to stay with the choir. The choir is very good and very professional, however I believe it’s a different type of singing skills then what she would need to succeed in musical theatre programs in high school and possibly further. They do teach “real singing” however, not just for fun. I just want to help lead her in a good direction. Thank you.

    • Choir singing is a wonderful way to learn about music and what it is like to sing and enjoy singing with others. It can have lifelong benefits. But you’re right – it’s not the kind of singing she would need to be adept at for pursuing musical theatre. And yes, dance is an important part of the triple threat (voice, theatre, dance) needed for musical theatre, so learning skills at an early age is helpful. We recommend looking for a local summer musical theatre program for children – this type of program can shed light on what it really takes to be in musical theatre while being a really fun summer experience. It can also help her – and you – start to see whether she really wants to be spending the bulk of her non-school time focused on voice, theatre, and dance lessons, practice, rehearsals, and performances. Look for a program directed by those with a good musical theatre background as well as experience working with children. These programs may be available through local colleges and universities, arts programs, and community music schools.

  6. Christine

    I’m in my sophomore year in a Choral Education program. I love teaching, but I’m also passionate about Musical Theatre. Is it possible to get a BME and still have the necessary “tools” to perform professionally?

    • Unless you specifically seek it, you’re not likely to get the triple threat training, appropriate performance experience, and exposure to those who scout for professional musical theatre auditioners in a choral education program. Consider summer training opportunities in musical theatre to help keep your dance, acting, and musical theatre vocal skills current if you really want to go in this direction.

  7. Isa

    I am midway through 10th grade, this has been my first year competing in my high school’s junior varsity show choir. Next year I’ll be in varsity show choir. I’ve been taking voice lessons outside of my choir for a year, and used to study ballet (but quit a year before I started toe). I’ve had some acting experience from plays and a performing arts camp. I’ve recently found a true love for my voice, and singing has become my passion, I sing all the time (sometimes I can’t stop), and I really think the stage is for me. I’m not quite sure if my experience is enough, but I’m ready to do whatever it takes. Do you happen to have any advice?

    • Getting feedback from teachers, mentors and peers along with some intensive training during the summers can help you figure out whether this is the right field for you to pursue. Have you seen our Summer Music Camps & Programs section? There are several excellent programs we recommend you check out ASAP: Showchoir Camps, Cap21, Songbook Academy, and summer musical theatre programs at Oklahoma City University, Syracuse U., Boston Conservatory, Roosevelt U., Catholic University, Hartt School of Music, U of Southern California. Also read this article: Studying Musical Theatre with a Music Emphasis.

  8. Giareed

    I was wondering if you could give me some advice for if this would be a good career for me to pursue. I am in 8th grade and have been in many/ some high school productions, and plan to continue this throughout high school. Within the 4 musicals I have participated in, my roles were ensemble and minor parts (like Pepper from Annie and Babbette from Beauty and the Beast). My school has a really good music program (we even had a flying crew for Tarzan). I have always loved singing, dancing, and acting with my musical families (that’s what we call each other). I have been dancing since I was around 5 through different programs. Also, my older brother works in a 360 degree theatre and works on the sets and design in the musicals. However, I also am one of the top students in my grade, so I have other options, but this is one I really love.

    • Since you have several years before needing to decide on colleges and careers, we suggest you spend time exploring areas that interest you now and staying open to learning about careers you don’t even know about yet. Note that students like you who are strong in music as well as academics often become dual majors so that they can study both. See this article, “Dual Degrees, Double Majors, and Music Minors” to learn more. Summer music programs are a great way to learn more about what it takes to become a music major, so we suggest you take a look at our Summer Music Camps & Programs to learn more.

  9. This is a great explanation of how different having theater as a hobby is compared to actually pursuing it as a career. I think you’ll find a lot of these things are true for any kind of hobby you try to make into a career – acting, painting, playing music, etc. A lot of people get into it expecting it to be as fun as it always was, and then end up surprised when they discover there’s a lot of work involved (or just flat out fail because they don’t put in the extra work).

  10. Georgia

    I’m a junior and thinking a lot about colleges and I have been singing and acting for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t had a lot of dance background. I really want to pursue my dream but is it worth it and is it still possible to get into a good school without having a lot of dance background?

  11. Alma

    Hello! I need some advice. I have a huge passion for musical theatre, however I have not been acting for very long. I have been singing in my school’s choir and taking voice lessons for three years and feel that I am proficient in that. I have also been taking dance classes for a few months and have been doing well. Is it too late to even consider majoring in musical theatre? I plan on also being in the school musical as well as community productions to improve my acting skills. I am willing to do what it takes to get into a good college, but I am wondering if it is even possible to persue it at this stage.

    • It is not too late, so long as you go into this with your eyes wide open. Ideally, you would find a musical theatre coach as soon as possible who could help you assess your current skills and see where the holes are to help you nail your audition for a college musical theatre program. Do read our other musical theatre articles!

      Another suggestion is to find a summer musical theatre program where you can hone your skills, get a sense of the competition, and really see if putting in all the energy that’s required (without a guarantee of getting roles) is what your really want to do. Look at our Summer Music Camps & Programs page for starters.

  12. Jenna

    I am currently in 10th grade, I have been dancing since I was 3 years old, and competing in musical theatre since I was 10 years old. I have been in one large-stream festival production recently as part of the youth cast, and was part of an ensemble last year in a community players musical, and began private singing lesson recently. I have known since I was a 12 that I wanted to be a musical theatre performer, but I’m scared that I do not have enough professional experience in order to major in musical theater. My school has a very poor theatre arts program, and I have very little extra time outside of school as I am at dance every single day. Do you think my chances are likely of getting into a musical theater program? I am also concerned because I feel like I may be too tall, I am about 5’10-11. And scared that my height will hold me back from many roles.

    • We recommend that you look for a summer musical theatre program where you can get broader training and experience as well as realistic feedback about your current skills, what you would need to do to be ready to audition for a college musical theatre program, and input about getting roles. Our 2016 Summer Music Camps & Programs page will continue to add new opportunities through next spring so be sure to visit it often. A musical theatre coach with a strong background in performing in musical theatre could also assist you in figuring out whether this is really the right path for you.

  13. Nancy

    I’m a Junior in High school and I’ve started thinking about colleges, majors, and just what i want to do. I love theater, musical theater mostly, and I always have a smile on when I’m watching a play. And I want to spend my life performing. But, here’s the problem: I’ve never really been on a stage. I’ve tried, believe me, but my underclassmen years were tough for me; I really didn’t want to put effort into anything. I didn’t join any clubs and my grades were good but I never joined anything to do with musical theater except choir. I’m worried if I apply to a school I won’t get in because of my limited experience in musical theater and POOF! There goes my dream. What I’m meaning is, what should I do to at least have a chance?

    • It’s wonderful to hear that you’ve discovered a love for the theater. Nurture that and keep theatre in your life. However, the reality of breaking into theatre is tough even for those who have been on stage since they were little. Any college-level theatre or musical theatre program will expect you to have a solid background in either so that they can help you move up to the next level(s) in your performance abilities. For musical theatre, that includes singing and dancing as well as acting. We suggest you consider arts management as another option which, if you choose, could be applied to the world of theatre. Click on this article on arts management to see if it inspires you.

  14. Katie

    I’m a junior in high school, this is my second year in theater and I love it. To me there’s nothing like the feeling of being on stage performing. I’m obviously starting to look at college and a major. I really want to major in musical theater but I’m not sure if that’s the right choice. A lot of family says it’s not but I’ve known performing has been my calling since the second I stepped on stage. I really need some advice about what to do for college.

  15. Gabby

    I am currently a junior vocal major at a performing arts school. I really want to be in shows and musicals in my school and at other places, but I feel like I’m not getting in because I don’t have enough experience. I never got the lead in a play, just the ensemble or chorus. Do you think not having enough experience will prevent me from getting into plays? And also, every place I go to says they want experience, but how can I get experience if I don’t get into any plays? Thank you!

    • This is quite a challenge – you need experience to get the roles, but you need the roles to gain experience!

      A few suggestions: 1. Ask for specific feedback about what you’re lacking so you have a better sense of what specifically you need to work on to get bigger roles. 2. Check out community music schools for musical theatre classes, or ask your teacher for suggestions. 3. Consider a summer music program for 2016 where you can plunge into musical theatre and gain experience and training. We’ll be posting our 2016 summer music programs list starting in December, so check often through the winter and spring.

  16. James

    I am a Junior in High School and I know for sure this is what I want to do. I have no training or experience. I’ve been teaching myself (with some help from more experienced friends) in singing and acting. I practice everyday for hours but I’m worried that I don’t have enough time before college to get enough training and experience for them to take me seriously. Is it too late for me?

    • Without training and experience, it is unlikely that you would pass auditions and be accepted as a musical theatre major or any kind of music major. These are serious programs for students who have shown a serious commitment prior to auditions. Singing, dancing, and acting are all required. If you want to explore musical theatre, we highly recommend that you start taking classes at a community music school and then see whether a summer musical theatre program would be an appropriate next step. Whatever you do, keep music in your life if you enjoy it!

  17. Chrissa

    Hi, I’m a high school senior and I really enjoy the empowerment of being on stage. I was in multiple productions from elementary school leads to high school productions and I feel like I can really dominate the stage but i have some insecurities.

    First, the schools I have attended I feel like weren’t fully equipped to have a real production because budgets were so low and most of the directors paid for most of the production out of pocket. I appreciate it and everything but I feel like I’m being held back and there are no acting troupes in my area. So, I feel like, if i audition for college if I’ll be able to keep up.

    I have been able to dance since I was three but it was mostly ballet and tap and I can do the fancy jumps and turns the requirement entails but I’m not the best because again, production was very low. I feel that i have solid vocals but with the enhanced dancing I don’t know if I’ll have the same quality as most performers.

    I’m about to apply for college and I have been really considering musical theater but without my parents opinion because I know it is a very scary and unstable job. So, i was wondering if there is a probability of being successful… I believe the university would help me improve and be the best I can, I’m just worried in following my dream and being disappointed.

    • Rather than repeat what these articles say in response to your questions, we highly encourage you to read them ALL: majoringinmusic.com/category/musical-theatre/

      There are no guarantees nor realistic probabilities regarding success in musical theatre. If you are looking for those, keep musical theatre in your life but consider other career paths. To quote this article, “Only if you can’t live without it should you consider musical theatre as a career path.”

  18. Armie

    I am currently a junior in a performing arts high school, and I have been majoring in voice! I’ve been wanting to be a singer before I could remember, but I didn’t know what kind of singer I wanted to be. I still don’t completely know, but starting my freshman year of high school I’ve had this growing love for musical theatre! Actually, I’ve always loved the songs in movie musicals, like Disney movies, I just never realized it counted as musical theatre! My dilemma is that I don’ t have any real experience in acting.. But I have been taught to have stage presence and performance! I have also taken a dance class my sophomore year, and I found myself doing pretty well in it! Do you think I should pursue musical theatre for college? I have also considered a career in opera, but I don’t have the same love for opera as I do in musical theatre.. And although I do love musical theatre, I’m not 100% sure that’s what I want to do. What I do know is that I love to sing and perform. Any advice or commentary would be very helpful! Thank you so much for your time.

    • As you can see from this article, musical theatre is a very challenging world to enter. You’ve got to be in it 110% if you want to have a shot at performing on big stages. Acting and dancing are also a big part of the equation. While you do get more training in voice, acting and dance in a college musical theatre program, admission is based on audition and you’d be auditioning with those who have been active in all areas of the “triple threat.” Since you’re a junior, we suggest you talk with your teachers and get their feedback about whether you have enough proficiency to move forward in musical theatre if you want to seriously dive into it now, before it’s time for college auditions. You should also explore summer musical theatre programs if you decide to go in that direction.

  19. Alleana

    I am 17 and a senior in high school and I have spent my whole life contemplating what I want to do. Then, I realized that I wanted the thing that I do for the rest of my life to be music. I have been playing the cello since 4th grade, been singing since 3rd grade, have done all the talent shows and am in the drama club. I absolutely love the feeling of being on stage and without singing I don’t know where I’d be. I have also taken singing lessons as well. I am looking to apply and audition for the University of Cincinnati and Baldwin Wallace. So, my question is do you think I have any chance at all? Its all I can think about because I want to get in so bad but I would like to hear someone’s input.

    • We suggest that you contact the schools you’re most interested in and see if you can get a lesson as soon as possible from the department where you’d be applying. That way, you’ll gain direct feedback and be better able to realistically determine whether you’re going in the right direction. Note that for musical theatre, you’ll need to be skilled in music, theatre, and dance.

  20. stella

    I’m a senior in University. I learned a music instrument when I was young, but not really good. I really like singing and want to be a musical actress, but my major is communication. So, I am thinking about a minor in theatre arts or music in my current university. Also thinking about going to another school or academy after I graduate. What degree is important to get a job?

    • It’s not so much the degree as it is your proficiency, skills, experience, connections, and willingness to persevere. Your school should help open doors to contacts for your future plans – networking is critical to your success as is the ability to be a self-starter.

  21. Madison

    I’m still a little bit confused, and want to know if you can help me out a bit. I’m about to be a freshman in high school, and that might be a bit young, but I definitely know that this is what I want to do. I’ve been acting for about three and a half years now, and I’ve been dancing for a long time too (about 7 years). I would say that I’m pretty good at both of these (the dancing might need a bit of work, but I have some time to improve). I am mainly concerned about vocals. I don’t know how good I am, because the only people you have said that I’m a good singer have been close friends and family. I don’t trust their opinion fully, because I know that they’re just trying to be nice. I’m going to try out for my high school musical, but lately, I don’t know if I have what it takes to do it or if I should give up. This is definitely the career I want to pursue. Is there a way to improve my singing in the time I have?

    • We recommend a few things:
      1. Take voice lessons with a coach who is experienced in musical theatre.
      2. Look for a musical theatre summer program to attend next summer.
      3. Check out the curriculum at various schools that offer musical theatre as a college major.

      As you get closer to your senior year, when you’ll be starting to audition, if musical theatre is still your calling, get a lesson from musical theatre faculty at one or more schools you’re seriously interested in applying to. Ask for gut honest feedback so you know whether you’re on the right track.

  22. Amy

    Hello! I am one of those people who is in love with vocal performance and music theater. I was fortunate enough to make it into a BFA MT and a BM vocal performance at two different universities. I understand that studying vocal performance will provide me with amazing musicianship and opera performance skills for the future. I am prepared to take a dance minor and some theater classes along the way, while auditioning for theater productions at the school if this is the path I choose. However, they said I could study classically in lessons on the side at the BFA MT school, but not add any extra music classes besides basic theory skills. It is mostly theater, dance, and broadway style singing based program. I want to be diverse, but I do not want to miss out on any training in either. I don’t know what the best option for me at this point is. Everyone is saying I won’t know until I get there after a semester. But that sounds so risky to me. I started studying both at the same time in my life, so there is neither that I’m “better” at. I do perform in regional and professional music theater productions while studying classically with my voice teacher at the same time to keep those skills up too. It’s hard to make a definite decision about which one to jump into and which training I can sacrifice for the other.

    • First: congratulations to you on getting both acceptances! We’re assuming you’ve made a decision and are now having something like “buyer’s remorse.” For incoming freshman, this often translates as some fear of the unknown. Which is normal! The BFA MT program likely told you what they did because the curriculum is so jam-packed with music, theatre, and dance classes as well as rehearsals and performances. We suggest you keep focused on what you think you want to do when you graduate, which will inform what you do while you’re in school. Talk with your current teacher and those teaching your classes when you get to college — their insights may inspire you and help you think out your next steps. You’ll likely discover new interests and talents and develop new skills as you go forward, so stay open to that as well. Remember that a good, solid education will serve you well in whatever you do when you graduate.

  23. Mary

    Hi! I am going to be a Sophomore in high school next year and I’ve been acting since 8th grade. I know that isn’t long, but I already know that musical theater is what I want to do. I believe I have the talent, and the drive to improve and get myself out there. I’ve already been looking at colleges and programs for after high school, and I believe I know what path I want to take. I only have one problem. I know I am a good singer and actor, but I need dance training. I want to take dance classes but I’m not sure where to start. Almost all dancers start when they are very young, so a lot of studios and classes are based around the fact that dancers my age would be more advanced or at least intermediate. I think I am a good dancer in general, and I have no doubt I would be able to learn quickly and I have the determination to work hard, but I lack the training and know how necessary to be anywhere near a level of dancers my age. I’m not sure what classes to take or how to find a studio that would be right for me. Any advice would be really helpful!

    • Your question is one we get asked a lot. So much so that we’ve asked the writer of this article to write a new one for us focusing on the dance component of musical theatre. Look for it soon! In the meantime, we suggest you contact any of the schools contributing to this article: Studying Musical Theatre with a Music Emphasis. Ask them about how you would prepare for their auditions and how their programs would help you become a full triple threat.

  24. Violet

    Just wondering – I did a lot of school plays and talent shows at school. I’m 17 now. If I’m actually really good at dancing acting and singing is it possible to audition for Broadway and make it?

    • There’s an old saying: “Never say never.” While it applies to your question, realize that you will be competing against others who have grown up singing and acting and dancing with lots and lots of professional coaching. We recommend finding a professional musical theatre coach who can assess your skills, give you feedback, and help you understand the audition process. A main benefit of a college-level musical theatre program is that it helps you strengthen all of your talents and skills and helps connect you with the scouts and other decision-makers in the business.

  25. Dorothy

    I would love to be able to perform on Broadway as a career. It would be a dream come true. The only problem is I have no idea if I could make it in that career. I have been the lead in a couple of community musicals. I think I am a pretty good singer. My dancing could use some work, and I think I am a pretty good actress. The only problem is the only people who have ever told me I am good are friends and family. So I have no idea where I stand.

    I am starting my freshman year of high school and I have never taken any classes to improve, besides attending a couple of camps and singing in the shower. If I work really hard would I be able to make up for lost time? Would it even be worth it after all that work to find out that I am not that good of a singer and I have been deceiving myself this whole time? Should I just work towards something more realistic like teaching children’s musical theater instead? What should I do?

    • We strongly suggest you have your current skills assessed by a musical theatre consultant or coach in your area or someone at a local university who teaches in this field. Their feedback should be useful in terms of what you can do to increase your proficiency in singing, acting, and dance. Also look seriously at taking a higher level musical theatre program than you’ve done in the past, both after school and during the summer. If you are still serious about pursuing this path, start communicating with musical theatre programs on the college level by the time you’re a junior. And see other articles about musical theatre on MajoringInMusic.com.

  26. Camille

    I am a current sophomore at McNally Smith College of Music majoring in Vocal Performance (Jazz & Contemporary). When I was younger I always enjoyed watching musical theatre but never had a chance to take part in it because of my focus in “music”. My goal for my career has somewhat changed within the last couple of years. Recently I have developed a love in performing musical theatre. My biggest problem is yes I have had some dance training, but unfortunately not enough theatre training. Also, the college that I attend does not offer a music theatre program. I would like to finish up my bachelors degree while participating in as much community theatre as possible and then eventually pursue musical theatre full time in a specific program. I am just struggling to decide which program would be best or me after I finish my degree. A summer workshop, a Certificate Program, an Associates, or Masters? Thank you! Any comment is appreciated!

  27. Dorothy

    I am going into my freshman year in high school. I absolutely love music and I can’t imagine doing anything besides music as a career. It would be more than a dream to me to be able to get on Broadway. The only problem is I haven’t been doing it since I was really little. I have no idea where I stand. I think I am a good singer and actor but the only people who have ever told me that are my family and friends. I have only been in a couple of musicals all of which I have gotten the lead. I have never had voice, acting, or dancing lessons besides the few summer productions I have been in. The only lessons I have ever had for music is piano which I have been playing for six years.
    I would love to know if I should pursue Broadway and be successful or just do something more simple instead, like directing children’s musical theatre.

    • Musical theatre is a very competitive field, as this article indicates. Those who go out for it tend to have had lessons in acting, voice, and dance as well as a lot of performance experience, since they were young. College musical theatre programs help polish already existing skills; provide performance opportunities; and introduce students to those scouting for upcoming shows. We suggest you look seriously at registering for summer musical theatre programs where you can learn more and also gain honest feedback about whether, with enough training, you’d be able to get into a musical theatre school for college. Check out other articles on musical theatre on MajoringInMusic.com for more information.

  28. Rachel

    Hi! My name is Rachel, and I am to be an junior in high school in the fall. I have loved acting, singing, and dancing for years, but had never really thought of making it a career until last year. I started doing musicals in 2012 and have loved it more than anything since then. I have been dancing since I was three years old, and I think that I am good, but not great at it. I believe that I am a pretty good actress, but can definitely improve if i get the chance to (aka get more roles in shows). However, I do not have the best voice. I can sing, but my voice isn’t very strong. I believe that if I work at it hard enough, then I can get much better, but I still don’t know if it would be good enough for a career in theatre. I really do love theatre more than anything and can’t see myself doing anything else with my life. I’m just terrified of not being able to make it out there.

    • Musical theatre is a tough path – you’re vying with those who have been taking lessons and performing. since childhood. You’d be wise to try to get into a musical theatre summer program where you can focus on the skills needed to audition and get your current skills assessed. You could also try to arrange a private lesson at a school you’d consider attending for musical theatre. There are other areas to consider in theatre if your proficiencies aren’t strong enough for lead and chorus roles, so be sure to investigate them as well.

  29. Katherine

    My name is Katherine and I’m a high school freshman. I’ve been doing community/school theatre since kindergarten. I’ve taken 2 years of private acting classes with a pretty famous coach (I knew her before I met her if that makes sense.) I’ve been taking singing lessons for 4 years. And am currently in a well-known choral group that travels around the world. I’m not trying to sound arrogant really, just trying to describe my situation.
    But I really am not very good at dancing. I’ve taken dancing for 4 years (not counting musical theatre shows I’ve been in) and I still can’t get it. I’ve tried hip hop, ballet, and jazz and I still just can’t. When I tried those, I took group lessons. But I’m looking into taking private dance lessons right now. What do you think I could do to improve my dancing skills if I were to go to musical theatre. I really think that if I try, I can really improve my dancing. Also my cousin, who was in A Chorus Line on Broadway, told me that she could talk to me that the dancing was very difficult. I’m kind of worried. But really, Broadway is my dream.

    • Many students write in with the same concern. We’ll be asking musical theatre professionals to contribute to this for an article, in fact. In the meantime, it sounds like you’re doing all the right things. The more of a triple threat you are when you’re looking for work, the more options you’ll have. We also suggest you read our article on music as the entry point into musical theatre. Then, as a prospective student, email some of the faculty who contributed as well as others at schools you might consider.
      Finally, look into summer musical theatre programs – we have several on the 2015 Summer Music Camps & Programs page.

  30. Dan

    I’m 20 years old. I really love musical theatre and I would like to make a carreer out of it. The problem is that I’m a bass. There are hardly any roles for basses in musical theatre, especially for guys my age. Should I give up on musical theatre or is it possible for me to increase my range in order to be able to sing baritone roles? And is it perhaps possible for a bass to be cast in an ensemble?

    • We recommend getting your triple threat skills evaluated by a musical theatre college faculty member or community music school teacher in your area who are actively involved in performing and teaching. They should then be able to give you useful feedback.

  31. Grace

    I LOVE music theatre. Unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities in my small town in Wisconsin. I have been in six shows so far but I am a junior in high school. Do I need more experience? I am a powerful singer, and from what I am told, I am a great actor. (It’s tough to judge yourself.) The thing is, since my town is so small, there is no way to get any dance experience. How heavily weighted is dance in the theatre world? Is there still hope for me to get into a college like the university of Cincinnati? Help! I feel so clueless about the dance thing. Are there colleges with good musical theatre programs that don’t require a dance audition?

    • We suggest you try to get into a summer musical theatre program. That will help you get a lot of your questions answered, provide you with intensive learning opportunities, as well as help you see how you stack up against others interested in the same career. Look at MajoringInMusic.com’s Summer Music Camps & Programs page for options – there are certainly more out there but this is a good way to start. We also suggest you read this article: Studying Musical Theatre with a Music Emphasis. As for schools you’re interested in: check their websites carefully. Then contact the musical theatre programs at those schools with questions you still have.

  32. Otega

    I am a 22 year old college graduate and I majored in Information Technology, however, while in school, I was in multiple choirs and had some vocal training as well as a few dance classes and was on a dance company for a semester. It took coming to college for me to realize that I really wanted to get into musical theater. Just about a year later out of school, all I can think about is having a career in musical theater. As someone who has beginner experience in music and dance and who doesn’t have a degree in either, how would I go about trying to start that career? I mean it’s never too late right!

    • Musical theatre is a highly competitive field, and many of those entering it have had training and stage experience since childhood. We suggest you start by asking yourself what you see yourself doing in musical theatre and where you’d want to do it. Also, what you would do while waiting for a call for a job. We suggest you then find a musical theatre teacher/coach to assess your current skills and give you realistic feedback re: what it would take to succeed. Look at other articles on musical theatre on MajoringInMusic.com here. Remember that even if it turns out to be unrealistic for you to be thinking about a Broadway career, you can still develop your talents to able to participate in community theatre.

  33. Daniella

    Musical theatre is my calling but I am from Israel and studying abroad (uk, usa) is imposible for me. I want to attend a school for artabin israel called “beit zvi” and I want to know if it is a known school and if it is not is it gonna ruin my chances?

    • We are not familiar with this school. We suggest you create a list of your priorities and questions and then talk with administrators and faculty directly. Ask to sit in on some classes. Talk with current students and alumni. How are they prepared for the world of musical theatre at this school? Does the school feel like a good fit for what you want to do and for who you are? And don’t you also have voice, theatre and dance teachers you have been studying with who you can talk with about this school?

  34. Alaina

    I have been involved in many commmunity theatre productions over the past few years. I really enjoy all aspects of it, singing, dancing, and acting, but most of all I love to sing. I don’t really care for acting without also having the music to go along with it. I do like listening to opera but I like singing musical theatre songs as opposed to an aria from an opera. I’m just not sure if what my interests are completely follow what I would be learning about in college and eventually doing for a career, because I don’t really want to focus my time on acting. Do you think I should still be thinking of going into musical theatre? And if so, are there any colleges that you know of that offer musical theatre programs that have an emphasis on singing/music? Any help is appreciated!

  35. Denise

    15 yr-old daughter is interested in continuing to pursue musical theater and has five years of vocals, dance and acting with dozens of local shows. She is going back to homeschool and really wants to audition pro locally in Orlando Florida with really big dreams of school in New York and or London. Should she audition pro, take intensive private and groups and homeschool sophomore through senior year, or go back to school in a Performance Arts High School Magnet?

    • We really don’t think anyone can give you useful answers without firsthand knowledge of your daughter’s performance capabilities. We suggest you meet with a professional musical theatre consultant who is current with their knowledge and experience of the musical theatre market, who can audition your daughter and guide her accordingly. If you are at a loss as to who to contact, consider that it’s important to remember that no matter how talented your daughter is and no matter where she goes to school or studies with, there are no outcome guarantees. We encourage you and your daughter to read the other musical theatre articles on MajoringInMusic.com for additional ideas.

  36. Christina

    Thank you for this article, I found it helpful. My son only recently (Sophmore year) discovered his love of musical theater. He had a strong musical background (8years piano plus band, jazz band etc) and took to it quickly. He has been taking voice for over a year and has a wonderful voice and is just naturally a great actor but….and here is my question…he is NOT a dancer. He is a senior this year and I am afraid none of the BFA programs will accept him even though he is quite talented and always gets a big part in HS shows. Any advice? or should he give up?

  37. Ellie

    Hey! I would love a bit of advice! Reading this article has been very helpful, but also a bit discouraging. Let me back up a bit.

    I’ve been performing in Musical Theater since I was 7 (I’m 20 now) and although I loved it, growing up, I never considered it a career option, until now. I graduated with my BA in Humanities last August, and since then have been trying to find my calling, and have discovered my passion afresh for musical theater since I’ve had more time and thought to devote to it.

    But this leads me to my question – would I have any chance at all at making it in MT without a degree specifically in that field? At least at the moment, neither I nor my family have the resources to send me back to school. I almost feel like I’ve missed the boat to even pursue this dream. And I wonder if there’s any chance I could have a consultation with Trish to see exactly what it would take to pursue this, and if I have it! If I don’t even have chance, then I feel like I should be devoting my thoughts, resources, and plans elsewhere.

    Thank you! I look forward to hearing your comments!

    • Successful musical theatre performers don’t necessarily have degrees in musical theatre. What they do have is the triple threat training, the ability to network, and the ability to handle rejection. Those skills and much more are taught in musical theatre programs, along with the opportunity to be showcased in front of future employers. Read our other musical theatre articles on MajoringInMusic.com to learn more. You will need to contact Trish directly. Go to the “Musical Theatre Magazine” link in her bio at the end of this article. You’ll find her email at the bottom of the magazine homepage.

  38. Madison

    I just discovered this article, and it has been extremely helpful.
    I’ve been intensely studying all facets of Musical Theatre for six years now. I have worked with several voice teachers, taken acting classes, studied dance, privately studied tap dancing, and am just now starting to take some Theatre related classes at my local community college (I’m a high school junior in a concurrent enrollment program). I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life, and I really just want to be a working actor. No member of my family has ever been interested in this sort of career, so I feel a bit like I’m just doing this on my own and it’s a little bit scary. Right now, my acting is my weakest point, and I realize that needs to change ASAP, but studying other things has left me with little money to pay for a private coach. I’m really trying to figure out which college to go to, and looking at certain colleges post-graduates makes me feel like I really need to go to a prestigious college, even though I cannot afford that. I’m just really trying to be smart about money, and therefore do not really want to go out of state (I live in Colorado). I want to get a BFA in Musical Theatre, is that a really smart choice? I don’t know if I’ll be able to be employed after college, or even where to go after I finish college. Also, I have the opportunity to stay a fifth year at my high school and take more community college classes. I don’t have a ton of shows on my resume, so would it be better to stay an extra year and try and get some more shows under my belt? Or should I just try to get to college as soon as possible?

    • We suggest you talk with any of the schools you are interested in attending and ask your questions directly to them. Besides getting their input about your specific questions, you’ll also be able to get a sense of whether you’d want to study at their school and the kind of support, opportunities, and resources they’ll offer you. If any of those schools are participating schools on MajoringInMusic.com, use the forms on their pages to ask your questions – we’ll make sure those schools get them immediately. Also consider talking with local community music schools in the area where you live – some of them have great musical theatre classes taught by those who’ve been in the field and can help you understand the road ahead.

  39. Olivia

    I just found this website and I am absolutely in love with it. I’m in high school and love musical theatre. I’ve taken voice lessons for about a year, have been in dance and choirs my whole life, and have done some community theatre productions. My strongest aspect is probably dancing first, then singing, then acting falls last. Do you have any other articles you could maybe point me toward?? Should I be getting more experience, taking classes, or whaat?
    Once again, I really am glad that I found this website!!

    • Thanks for your feedback – we really appreciate it and are so glad MajoringInMusic.com is serving you. We’ll be continuing to add content about musical theatre, but since the focus of this website is music, there will always be a music focus.

      As for your questions, we suggest you find a teacher or coach in your area who has a strong background in musical theatre and who can review your voice, acting and dance performance skills, and make suggestions. We also suggest you look into summer music programs where you can focus on musical theatre.

  40. Jen

    Hello,
    My daughter has realized in the past year that Musical Theater is her calling. She is a senior in High school, class of 2015. She takes voice lessons and her voice teacher wants her to compete in a NATS sponsored competition. Her voice teacher also has a chamber choir that she wants Meg to participate in. They will actually be singing at Carnegie Hall this spring! She did her first community theater show this summer, where she played Tracy in Hairspray. She has done all her high school shows to date, but lots of people tell her she needs to do more community theater for a stronger resume. Is this true? Her heart and loyalty to her drama program is strong, but she wants to have a strong resume for college applications. If she does the community show, she would also have to forego the Chamber CHoir. What is the smarter choice in this situation? I wonder if the Chamber Choir holds a lot of weight and experience as well, and the HS Musical and the chamber choir could be done together.

    Your expertise would be very much appreciated!

  41. Domonique

    I’m a senior in high school, and I’ve been doing musical theater for about 9 years now. I haven’t had enough money to get a steady agent, which is really the only reason I haven’t been audition for higher shows other than community theater. As of lately, I’ve also been working backstage, and I can honestly say that I would like to pursue a degree in either MT or Stage management. My problem with MT is that I’m not a strong dancer, andy problem with stage management is that I don’t have enough experience to create a portfolio forhat major specifically. My question now is where do i go from here? Will I be able to “make it” without being a strong dancer, and will I be able to get into a college with a portfolio full of backstage work & 2 stage manager/director experience? Thank you so much for your help !

    • We will be posting a new musical theatre article soon. Schools on MajoringInMusic.com with MT programs through the music school or department will also be featured. You’ll be able to contact them to ask your specific questions. Check back soon!

  42. Rebecca

    Trish – my daughter (who will be a senior in high school this year) has been in love with theatre and musical theatre since she could walk. She used to say when she grew up she was going to be an actor singer dancer teacher preacher. She has taken vocal training since the age of 8 and acting classes from numerous instructors in our city since around the same time. She “graduated” from community theatre to local professional theatre several years ago and has been steadily building her resume.

    However, now that the time has come for college applications she feels her dancing is going to bring her down. She has taken dance (and is currently taking private lessons from a very good instructor) but it will never be her strong point.

    This, added to the cruel remark of a now “ex” boyfriend that she should “look for something else to do because she probably isn’t good enough” has sucker punched her confidence. She just finished playing Becky Thatcher in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, assistant directed a professional production of “A Little Night Music”, was offered the role of Charlotte in “Oliver” for the Christmas season, and already has two more professional productions lined up for this year in addition to her schools Musical Theatre production of “Drowsy Chaperone”.
    My question – are there schools that don’t put as much of an emphasis on being a “great dancer”? If so – can you steer us in their direction?

    I want her to go after her passion!

    • Trish would be happy to provide a private consultation for your daughter – let us know if you’d like us to connect you with her. In the meantime, we suggest your daughter contact the schools that seem like they’d be a good fit in terms of the musical theatre programs as well as all the other criteria that go into making a sound decision about college. We encourage her to look at the “Choosing Music Schools” section of MajoringInMusic.com for this purpose. Note that we’ll be adding a new article about studying musical theatre within music schools, by early September if not before, so stay tuned!

  43. Kylie

    I am entering my senior year of high school this fall, and live in rural north Florida. My musical theatre experiences have been local drama club productions for past few years. I am enthralled with musical theatre, but have no mentor, no formal lessons and no idea of choosing a school. My grades are average, but my passion is musical theatre..do I need a degree to be taken seriously? Where do I start?

    • Elise Morrow-Schap, enrollment coordinator at The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America, which offers a musical theatre major, offers this response:
      “A degree in music theatre is not necessarily required to ‘make it’ in the business. However, so many opportunities in the theatre world stem from connections. Being as involved as you can in the theatre world allows for better networking opportunities to propel you into a performing future. Passion does go a long way and it is encouraging that you’ve participated in multiple drama club productions. Everyone starts somewhere! If you wish to continue forward with your dream of musical theatre, I would advise you to find a voice instructor, register in a dance class, audition for as many performance opportunities as possible, and really apply yourself in order to perfect your craft. You do not necessarily need to major in musical theatre, but you should never stop performing and growing as an actor.”

  44. Steven

    Dear Trish: I am a Vocal Music Teacher for a public high school music program in Yonkers, NY. My great love/background is Musical Theater and getting kids excited about it excites me. I do feel that there is not nearly enough exposure to the Golden Age of American Musical Theater. I am in a school which is Montessori based from an educational philosophy point of view (student centered/independent learning). Once per year in April the students get to select a week long program of independent study for which they fund raise all year. Many of these programs involve trips out of the school building or collaborating with an expert for whatever program is selected. This is a week long hiatus from their regular class schedule. This is my first go at this Any ideas on how I can design a program that will appeal to an assortment of students from highly specialized/talented students to spectators. I have only 3 days to design such a program! Please help!! By the way, Yonkers is a poor district so there have not been any school productions in which I have participated. I am a pianist. Thanks: Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      We’ve asked Trish to weigh in on this but know she’s incredibly busy with her new Musical Theatre Magazine so we don’t know what her timing will be. In the meantime, we suggest you google “musical theatre + high school curriculum” – we saw several entries that could be of use to you, including one from ChoralNet (ACDA).

      Best wishes with your challenging but awesome project!

  45. Arthur La Motta

    Thank you, Trish, for this post. I am currently a high school senior and I am working on college applications at the moment. Musical theatre caught my eye as a major. However, I have not acted or danced in the past (only sang) and I am not sure if MT is what I really want to do. I am thinking about majoring in something else for my first year in college and take some musical theatre classes on the side. Just to see if it’s something I want to do with my life. If I think it’s something I would like to pursue, I would transfer and begin my theatre training. Based on your experience, do you think this is a wise way to go about this obstacle?
    Do you have any suggestions for me?
    Any help is appreciated.

    • Arthur,

      You’re smart to consider getting as much exposure to the skills and people involved in musical theatre to see if it’s really your calling. Prior to auditioning for a musical theatre program, most students have been taking singing, dancing, and acting lessons as well as performing in school and community musicals for at least a few years.

      To discuss your thoughts and plans, Trish suggests you contact her at TrishCausey@gmail.com to schedule a 1:1 consult. She’s also launching “Musical Theatre Magazine” to help shed more light on decisions and choices regarding a career in musical theatre.

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