B.F.A. students with a concentration in Musical Theatre at UM are trained in Stanislavski-based acting techniques, rigorous text analysis and acting for the camera, but pursue a larger sequence of performance-based classes aimed towards integrating their acting, singing, dance and movement skills to successfully audition for and perform in musicals and plays of various styles. We also provide training throughout your 4 years at UM in preparing and submitting effective self-tapes for a variety of audition opportunities, as well as technique for auditioning on Zoom/online platforms.
While Musical Theatre students will hone their singing, dancing and acting skills, our goal is to train you to be a distinctive, versatile performer capable of playing complex roles not only in musicals, but a wide variety of theatrical styles as well as TV and Film. This is essential for employment and a career in the contemporary entertainment industry.
You will work extensively on song, text and music interpretation with the goal of bringing your authentic self and unique sensibility to your interpretation of a role, so it is distinctive and individual (which greatly impacts on the casting process as well)!
Our voice teacher Amy Murphy will develop your artistry and provide solid vocal technique so you can sing both traditional musical theatre and contemporary pop/rock styles with confidence, but also the important ability to MAINTAIN vocal health and ease over a run. In recent seasons, our students have successfully sung challenging and diverse vocal styles such as CHICAGO, CARRIE, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, the 60s love-rock musical HAIR, URINETOWN, HEATHERS, THE LIGHTING THIEF, Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY, William Finn’s A NEW BRAIN and Jonathan Larson’s RENT.
Our dance classes are designed to develop your stamina and technique, and improve your skills in required core classes such as Ballet, Jazz, and Tap, as well as various other styles (recent offerings have included Contemporary, Hip-Hop and West African Dance).
*Our BFA majors with a concentration in Musical Theatre and Acting currently participate in a Senior Showcase in NYC where we partner with The Growing Studio as Producers (www.thegrowingstudio.com) Our showcases have returned studio presentations in 2022 and 2023 in Midtown Manhattan after we presented an online showcase during the COVID pandemic in spring 2021. After researching and preparing a showcase cut with UM faculty and online coaching from an industry guest in NYC, our majors present their material for Agents, Casting Directors and Directors at invited and open sessions. NOTE: with the exception of the online showcase year, our students have received offers to sign or freelance with agents every year to date as well as auditions for national tours of musicals such as DEAR EVAN HANSEN, THE BOOK OF MORMON and HAMILTON.
In addition, as part of the showcase experience, our seniors also participate in 4-5 workshop sessions with Casting Directors, Directors and agents on auditioning for TV, Film, and Theatre; Marketing and Branding themselves in the Industry; and commercial and voice-over auditioning. *NOTE: these workshops take place on Zoom and in person in NYC to provide our students with a range of training opportunities.
OUTSIDE AUDITION OPPORTUNITIES
*UM Musical Theatre students have also actively participated in the national “A1” screening auditions by The Growing Studio each fall, where they can audition for professional summer theatre work in NYC in January (as well as other regional professional auditions such as Midwest, SETC, UPTA, Outdoor Drama Association and STRAW HAT). *NOTE: in fall 2021, 2022 and October 2023, UM has hosted the Birmingham area A1 screening auditions on campus in our new Center for the Arts Complex. **IN ADDITION, the Theatre faculty consistently posts job opportunities for students over the summer (and also our graduates) requiring self-tape submissions.
*Before the pandemic, the Amy Murphy Studio offered annual NYC Musical Theatre Intensive Workshop: Since 2010, UM Musical Theatre students have been eligible to attend these annual workshops, providing opportunities to study with and/or audition for leading industry professionals. Since March 2020, the Studio has offered a series of online guest artists workshops including the ”Broadway Q&A” series that UM MT majors attend on Zoom. In addition, during 2022-2023, some of our majors participated in the Studio’s various Cabaret performances at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC along with other students and professional artists.
*UM BFA Theatre majors are also eligible to audition during the school year, with faculty approval, for professional productions in nearby Birmingham at Red Mountain Theatre Company, Birmingham Children’s Theatre, and the Virginia Samford Theatre. These organizations also offer our students employment opportunities during the summer, including working with K-12 students in summer theatre camps as well.
Students have an opportunity to perform in class showcases of musical revues and staged readings of musicals; departmental rep classes; guest artist workshops; vocal juries; UM’s original, annual student-written and produced homecoming “College Night” musicals; as well as audition for two fully produced musical productions a year in the Theatre Department. In fall 2021, Musical Theatre majors also wrote, produced, directed and performed in a New Musical adaptation of the film FLATLINERS (book by Annslyn Pilkington; Music by Jennifer Hartsell), with its cast recording now available on Spotify.
NEW MUSICAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES/NEW INITIATIVES IN SPRING 2022: In spring 2022, we provided our Musical Theatre students with an exciting opportunity to help develop a new musical with a professional team. We cast 13 students in a semester long workshop process based in our THEA 463: Musical Theatre III class, where they worked on the new musical SALOME VERSUS JOHN written by NYC based lyricist Rebecca Aparicio and composer Stephen Anthony Elkins along with a UM Theatre Faculty Instructor and a Guest Musical Director from Birmingham. The writers attended class most weeks via Zoom and the students had an opportunity to implement score rewrites and present a 30-minute version of the musical “in progress” at two public performances. *We plan to continue to work on new musicals as part of our curriculum in reading and workshop formats, and possibly a full production.
GUEST ARTIST MASTER CLASSES
2021—2023 Guest Artists (Zoom and In Person): Casting Directors Jeffrey Dreisbach (Pat McCorkle Casting—On Camera Auditioning); Chad Eric Murnane (Binder Casting—Theatre Auditioning); Michael Cassara (Michael Cassara Casting—Theatre Auditioning); Elizabeth Brummel (Commercial and Voice Over Casting); Barry Shapiro (Commercial Casting); Shorey Walker (The Growing Studio –Industry/Career Preparation; Agent Interview Preparation); David Ruttera (NYC Freelance Director and Broadway Associate Director—Monologue/Song Coaching)
2020—2021 (All on Zoom): Broadway/National Tour performers Krystina Alabado (“Gretchen Weiners” in MEAN GIRLS; MYSTIC PIZZA); Desi Oakley (“Jenna” in WAITRESS; “Roxie Hart” in CHICAGO)—Zoom Workshop with UM students performing live on campus; Musical Theatre Auditioning.
Casting Directors Kevin-Metzger-Timson (Tara Rubin Casting—Musical Theatre Auditioning) and Barry Shapiro (Barry Shapiro Casting—Commercial Auditioning); Jacqueline Wheeler (Agent—Nicolosi and Co., NYC; The People Store, Atlanta—Interview Preparation and Song/Monologue Coaching); Shorey Walker (The Growing Studio—Industry/Career Preparation; Agent Interview Preparation); Broadway/Regional Music Director Steven Cuevas; “Q&A” Master Class/Broadway series with the Amy Murphy Studio: Jen Colella, Brandon Logan, Arbender Robinson, Nick Rashad Burroughs, Angela Birchett and others.
Prior Years (On Campus at UM and in NYC): ON CAMPUS: Angela Birchett (THE COLOR PURPLE); Eden Espinoza (WICKED and BROOKLYN); Ryan Jamaal Swain from the FX television hit POSE: NYC based choreographers Chip Abbott and Parker Esse; Tina-Marie Libby, producer of the musical CHASING RAINBOWS (with productions at Goodspeed Musicals and Papermill Playhouse); Greta Lambert (Associate Artistic Director, Alabama Shakespeare Festival—Acting Shakespeare); Melissa Firlit (NYC based freelance Director—Scene Work); Michael O’ Neill—On Camera Auditioning; Cliff Williams (Intimacy Choreography and Stage Combat and others. In NYC: Casting Directors from Tara Rubin Casting and Wojcik Casting; Agents from The Mine, CGF Talent, UIA and others; Danny George, Shorey Walker and Ricky Loftus from The Growing Studio—Industry Preparation and showcase choreography; Anthony Daniel (freelance Director)—material selection and coaching.
UM Musical Theatre majors are smart, proactive and versatile artists who are well prepared for the contemporary entertainment industry and a variety of professional markets, including self-taping and using virtual audition submission platforms. We also encourage students to create their own work opportunities and to be versatile in their careers, working in related fields including directing, producing, choreography and coaching, as well as performing!
Check out the link on our BFA Musical Theatre Program in Spotlight from the College Musical Theatre Guide.