New Musical Theatre Course Preps Students for Audition & Performance

by Tamara A. Measler

Students in the Theatre Arts program at Montgomery County Community College can enroll in a new Musical Theatre course being offered for the first time this fall. Students will leave the class with two pieces prepared and polished for use in auditions or theatrical performances.

According to Program Coordinator Michael Whistler, the Theatre Arts program seeks “to train theatre artists. To develop people who can create theatre art, as opposed to just being an actor, or a singer or a director.”

The program includes classes in acting, improvisation, scene study and Shakespeare performance, among others, as well as a theatre production workshop. The Theatre Arts program combines with the Drama Club to do a production each semester; A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen, is on the schedule for the fall.

Whistler describes the new musical theatre class as a “specialized course, allowing students to learn how to train their bodies and their voices, to look at how to produce a song, at how one crafts a lyric, how you find a sense of character in a lyric, how a lyric fits into a scene, how a lyric is acted.”

“All of this is very valuable but it’s also a lot of fun,” said Whistler.

The course will be taught by Kate Brennan, who is a performer as well as a teacher. In addition being an adjunct instructor at the College, she teaches at Merion Mercy High School and Rosemont College, and she recently co-instructed a musical theatre course at Temple University.

Brennan performs with and co-directs at Backseet Productions in Philadelphia and participates in Broadway in the Classroom, a program run by Theater Direct International in New York City.

“Kate’s a dynamite teacher. I’m really thrilled that she’s bringing her course to the College. I actively sought her for this course after I saw her on stage. She’s fantastic!” shared Whistler.

Brennan describes the course as “a real collaborative endeavor, both an academic class as well as a performance class.”

“I expect to see the students become more adept at presenting musical theatre, identifying types of work and composers on their own, becoming familiar with musical theatre history, and honing their own performance skills,” she said. “It’s a survey course, and the thrust of the focus is going to be on performance. We will provide students with the skills they’ll need to perform, to audition, and to attend rehearsals for the first time. We’ll have an accompanist in class, and we’ll be working to build the students’ repertoire.”

Students will play a key role in the class through participation and providing feedback.

“The students will be always needed, always contributing. The class will be a mature setting in which to learn and contribute…very hands on and focused,” said Brennan.

This fall, the Musical Theatre class is being offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. at the College’s Central Campus in Blue Bell. Students are required to have taken one of two prerequisites, either Improvisation or Music Fundamentals.

Registration is going on now for the fall semester, which begins on Aug. 31 and runs through Dec. 20.

New students can learn about the admissions and registration processes by visiting www.mc3.edu/admissions or by calling 610-718-1800 (West Campus) or 215-641-6300 (Central Campus).

Returning students can register for classes online via WebAdvisor, by mail or in person at the College’s campuses. For more information, visit www.mc3.edu/admissions/registration.

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