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Music Theatre

Preparing graduates to take center stage

Casting directors and talent agents take notice when they see “Elon University” on the resumes of music theatre graduates. That’s because Elon has built a reputation in the industry for producing mature, talented, energetic and creative performers. If you have your sights set on performing in music theatre, Elon will prepare you for the spotlight. The music theatre program is an intensive course of study and performance, focused on providing you with the knowledge, experience and professional exposure you need to build a successful career on stage or in graduate school. 

Working in close contact with our expert faculty, you will develop and sharpen your acting, singing and dancing skills. You will explore the theories of the craft and learn firsthand how to put those theories into practice. And you won’t have to wait in line for stage time. Beginning your first semester, you will find abundant opportunities to sharpen your skills in stage productions, concerts, revues and recitals.

Long before you graduate, you will make valuable contacts in professional music theatre by participating in master classes, auditions, conventions, competitions and workshops. 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better training ground than Elon. The environment created by the talented and nurturing faculty encourages self-exploration, passion for your craft, and success. It’s a wonderful community. I worked very hard and had the time of my life.”

Lindsay K. Northen ’03

Broadway cast of “Wicked”

Innovative curriculum

Elon offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music theatre. The music theatre program admits 16 to 20 new students each year, which means each student receives the kind of close, personal attention that will bring out his or her best. 

The course of study trains students in the three essential elements of music theatre: music, acting and dance. All majors take studio voice lessons, music theory and skills courses; studio dance courses in jazz, modern, tap, ballet and musical theatre dance; and at least four semesters of acting. Students also explore the history and literature of music theatre. In the capstone senior seminar, you will prepare a project that showcases your proficiency in performance skills.

Expert faculty

At Elon, you will learn from dynamic professors who combine years of industry experience with a passion for teaching. The faculty include professional actors, musicians and dancers whose credits include performances in theatres, concert halls and opera houses on and off Broadway, throughout the nation and abroad. Among the faculty in the Department of Performing Arts are:

Catherine McNeela, coordinator of the music theatre program and a member of Actor’s Equity, has 25 years of experience as an actor and a director. She has performed professionally throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe in more than 100 plays, musicals and operas. She holds degrees from the College of Wooster and the University of Michigan, and was a charter member of the music theatre program at the School of Fine Arts in Banff, Canada. Her acting and voice teachers include Austin Pendleton, Clyde Vinson and Kristin Linklater.

Linda Sabo has more than 30 years of experience as a professional performer, choreographer and teacher. She founded the original dance program for musical theatre majors at Syracuse University and has also taught at the University of Michigan, Iowa State University and Interlochen National Music Camp.

Lynne Kurdziel Formato is an award winning professional director/choreographer and a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC). She has more than 30 years of experience and 300 productions to her credit, including productions at Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Artpark, Dollywood, Studio Arena Theatre and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. She directed and choreographed the European premiere of Disney’s Aladdin, the Scandinavian premiere of Young Frankenstein, and the Danish premiere of Edges for the Fredericia Teater in Denmark. Prior to her position at Elon, she served as the Director of Music Theatre for the University at Buffalo.

Kurt Robinson is praised for his attention to, and modern interpretations of the time-honored Italian School of singing, Kurt is accomplished in helping professional and aspiring performing artists develop their voices for the Broadway stage and the popular music industry. Highly skilled and an expert in mix technique, he consistently bridges the technical gaps between the most modern styles of pop and rock music and the more traditional, classical approaches to singing.

Kurt’s clientele have enjoyed thriving lead performances in some of the hottest Broadway productions and national tours.He has coached recording artists for the Columbia Artists, Jive, Def Jam, Epic, Atlantic, and Nickelodeon labels. Kurt maintains his private studio in New York City (est.2000) and works regularly with students across the United States, in L.A., in Europe, and in Japan. He is voice professor in the musical theater department at Elon University specializing in contemporary singing. He taught at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City for 8 years, during which time he served as music director and vocal supervisor for SMASH choreographer Josh Bergasse. Kurt is a headlining vocal coach for MSA Talent Agency NYC. He teaches master workshops for university and conservatory programs across the country and for the Jikei Group Music Conservatories in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a Master's in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

Rick Church is the Conductor and Musical Director for the Performing Arts Music Theatre Department.  Prior to his appointment to Elon, Rick was a Music Theatre Faculty Associate at Wright State University and Faculty Adjunct teaching Musical Theatre at New York University (Steinhardt).  Rick is on the Faculty at Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Program and has been involved in their programs over 20 years.  Rick is also one of the founders of the Interlochen Center for the Arts Music Theatre Intensive Institute. Since 1990, Rick has had a professional studio in NYC as a Voice Instructor and Vocal Coach specializing in a strong technical and healthy approach to Musical Theater vocal styles in all areas of the voice.New York. His work can be heard on recordings of VLAD (Dracula, the Musical) written by Placido Domingo Jr. and Produced by Placido Domingo, Lucky Guy & Lizzie Borden the Musical.

Visiting performers come to Elon each year to conduct seminars, workshops, performances and master classes. Among them are Kelli O’Hara, Dave Clemmons, John Bucchino, Andrea Burns, Craig Carnelia, Ricky Ian Gordon, Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lippa, Adam Guettel , Randy Skinner and Jeff Whiting.

Early experience on stage

While classroom learning is critical, there is no substitute for getting on stage and performing. Throughout your academic career, you will have the chance to participate in productions including musicals, student-directed one-act plays, dramas, musical revues, recitals, singing ensembles, dance performances and workshops conducted by visiting performers. Recent on-campus productions include “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Kiss Me, Kate”, “West Side Story,” “Rent,” “Ragtime,” “A Little Night Music,” “Crazy for You,” “The Wild Party” (Lippa) “Jane Eyre,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Spelling Bee,” “Hair,” “1776”and “Sweeney Todd.”

Premier facilities

The music theatre program is housed in Center for the Arts, a 75,000-square-foot facility specifically designed for teaching and performance. The centerpiece stage is McCrary Theatre, a fully equipped performance space with seating for 575. The 125-seat Yeager Recital Hall offers a more intimate setting along with digital recording capabilities, and the center’s fully outfitted 100-seat Black Box Theatre can be configured to any arrangement, from proscenium to arena.

The Center for the Arts also houses modular practice rooms, three dance studios, a design studio, rehearsal rooms, a complete scenery shop and costume shop, computer labs, classrooms and Steinway concert grand pianos.

Auditions and scholarships

Admission to Elon’s music theatre program is by audition. Audition dates are set annually in the fall and spring. View a list of upcoming audition dates.

Students may audition before being admitted to Elon; however, all offers of admission to the music theatre program are pending until a student is admitted to the university. Annual scholarships of up to $8,000 are available based on application and audition. 

Real–world experience

Most students in the performing arts programs leave Elon with professional credits on their resumes. Through internships, summer theatre work and other opportunities, you will develop significant real-world experience before you graduate. Among the venues our students have worked are the following:

  • Music Theatre of Wichita
  • Pittsburg Civic Light Opera
  • Santa Fe Opera
  • Flat Rock Playhouse
  • Arkansas Repertory Theatre
  • The Sacramento Music Circus
  • The Muny

Music theatre majors routinely participate in Elon’s nationally recognized study abroad programs, which include classical studies in Greece, semester residencies in London, and jobs and internships with the London Theatre.

After graduation

Most music theatre graduates move straight into performing careers. Recent graduates have appeared in the Broadway productions of "Wicked," "Newsies," "Matilda," “Memphis”, “In The Heights”, “West Side Story,”"After Midnight," “The Encore Series”, “Jersey Boys” "Cry Baby." "All Shook Up,"and “Spring Awakening.” Recent National tours include "Beauty and the Beast," "West Side Story," “Mary Poppins,”“Spring Awakening,” “A Chorus Line,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” "Memphis," "South Pacific," "Flash Dance,""Elf," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Legally Blonde"and “Mamma Mia.” Television and Film include: "Law & Order: SVU," "CSI: Miami," "Glee," "The Flash," Home Shopping Network. Off-Broadway productions include “Heathers,” “Rent” (revival) and “Gary Goldfarb.”

Other graduates continue their training in prestigious graduate schools such as Yale School of Drama, The Julliard School and Manhattan School of Music. 

Visit the Department of Performing Arts Website.

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