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New program receives B.A. in musical theatre

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Lights. Camera. Action! The stage is set for those who dare to cross the threshold.

For students who have a passion for musical theatre, the only route at Washburn previously was to get a Bachelor of Arts in the arts. A new program in Garvey is in the process of being approved: a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre.

According to the new program review form, written by Sharon Sullivan, professor and chair of the department of the college of arts and sciences, musical theatre prepares students for life as working artists in the theatre and further study in performance.

Sullivan discussed how rigid the program was at first.

“It was very specific about what classes you had to take," said Sullivan. “We originally set that program up that way because we wanted students to have as many skills when they got out. It’s a very competitive business, but that really wasn’t what the students wanted.”

The final push for a separate degree program within the theatre department was the students excitement and determination to have more specific course work that fits their needs. Sullivan estimates that the Bachelor of Arts in musical theatre will be passed by the end of the school year.

“Musical theatre is tough for an institution like ours because our budget is small,” said Sullivan. “We have had basically the same budget for 30 years. We decided that if that’s what the students wanted, then we needed to meet that need.”

Because of this shift, Sullivan mentions an increased cost to music students for voice lessons due to the increase in students participating in the musical theatre program.

According to Sullivan, this program requires an audition to get in, a yearly performance to remain in the program and voice lessons as well as dance, acting and piano classes.

Julie Noonan, the assistant professor in theatre at the College of Arts and Sciences, helps students with specific courses that they can take to start the path best fitted to their needs in this program.

“It is more of a performance based degree,” said Noonan. “Students can come over here and talk to us. They need to do an audition in order to be in the musical theatre program.” 

Though the path to receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre will not be easy, art in general can be.

“Anyone can audition for any of our shows or work on our shows,” said Sullivan. “Everybody is welcome here. I always tell students: ‘If you can imagine yourself doing anything else, go do that thing and come play with us.’ Come make art with us.”

Edited by Jessica Galvin, Adam White, Jason Morrison

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