Current or future University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students with an interest in musical theatre now have a new academic program available to them.
Kenneth Pereira, Associate Professor of Voice, along with the rest of the Music and Theatre Arts Department, received more and more questions from both prospective and current students about musical theatre and if we had a degree in it. “Given the student interest and the fact we are a department of Music [and] Theatre Arts, musical theatre seemed to be a logical next step in the trajectory and growth of the department” Pereira describes. He took a few minutes this spring to reflect on this incredible new opportunity for UWEC students.
What are the goals of the program?
We want to provide excellent training and education in the area of musical theatre within the context of a liberal arts education. We have a curriculum where our students can grow in the areas of acting, voice, and dance - which are essential for those hoping to become a "triple threat" in the musical theatre industry.
How do you plan to grow it?
The first step was to create the degree and refine the curriculum, so that we are truly meeting the needs of these students. Additionally, beginning in the 2020-21 school year, we will present one musical theatre production every year in our mainstage season. In the past, we have alternated the musical theatre production every other year with an opera production. We will continue to do an opera every other year, but one production of our four-show season will now be a musical. Another aspect is making current courses more inclusive of musical theatre in the curriculum. For instance, I teach a class called "Opera Workshop," which focuses on building the skills singing actors need through exercises and scene work. We have reworked this class, now called Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop, and will have the students learn these skills through both the opera and musical theatre repertoires.
How does this program connect with the music/theatre sides of the department?
Students in the musical theatre major get to work with professors from both the music and theatre sides of the department. Only musical theatre and vocal performance majors have this kind of cross training in their degrees. It also has secured the collaboration of the two areas on the musical theatre and opera productions. The musical theatre program really draws on the strengths of our great faculty to present exciting productions and train our students for the many different career paths tied to this art form. More than people onstage, you have instrumentalists in the pit, stage managers and technicians backstage and in the booth, designers in the studios, as well as arts administrators marketing events... the list goes on.