PART 4: Musical Theatre Summer Programs
The following are among the top musical theatre summer programs in the country to consider attending.
Open Jar Institute (New York, NY)
It makes sense that Open Jar is based in New York City, the billion-and-a-half dollar musical theatre capital of America.
What makes Open Jar unique is that it is among the only summer programs for high school and college-aged students partner with Broadway professionals in an intensive 5-day program of acting, singing, dance, and even audition coaching.
If you are a student of this program, you aren’t simply working with experts; you are working with a who’s who rolodex of Broadway directors, agents, actors, and choreographers.
What makes the program unique; it is a 5-day institute in which students undergo intensive workshops, rehearsing, and audition preparation during the daytime.
At night, students attend a live musical on Broadway.
A common theme of summer programs in this list is the following: students gain an unusual advantage for college applications when they study not only with professionals, but are exposed to live professionals doing exactly what they want to do when they grow up and graduate from college.
I’ve had high school students attend Open Jar; they consistently say it was among the best experiences of their young musical life.
American Musical Dramatic Academy (New York, NY)
AMDA’s summer programs embody multiple facets of contemporary theatre and show business, including musical theatre, acting for film and television, dance, and popular music singing.
Located in both New York City as well as Los Angeles, students of AMDA, like at Open Jar, gain experience working with professionals who have acted in Broadway & other professional capacities.
AMDA itself is one of the top institutions for musical theatre in the country at not only the summer program level, but also at the collegiate level.
In fact, according to Playbill magazine, AMDA (at the college level) is the 4th most-represented school on Broadway, with alumni featured in shows such as Aladdin, Cats, Miss Saigon, and Lion King.
Students of the AMDA summer program frequently attend some of the most prestigious colleges for musical theatre after graduation, including AMDA itself.
New York University (New York, NY)
At the college level, NYU actually has two musical theatre programs, one held at the Steinhardt school, another held at the Tisch school.
Both are excellent and have prepared students for admission into top programs. I personally have had a student attend the Steinhardt option and he ended up gaining admission into a top musical theatre college program.
Both programs train students in the triple threat of musical theatre; singing, acting, and dancing.
It is difficult, if perhaps impossible, to say if one program is more successful than another – I can say that Tisch, at the undergraduate level, is more known for its acting emphasis, and that Steinhardt is more known for its music emphasis.
What I can speak to both programs is outcome; attending the summer musical theatre program at either NYU program looks tremendous on a student’s resume when applying for a college-level musical theatre program.
University of Michigan’s MPulse Summer Program (Ann Arbor, MI)
In the musical theatre section of this list, four of the five listed programs are housed at major musical theatre colleges.
My choice to include summer programs housed at a major musical theatre college is no coincidence; one of my top recommendations for students looking into a school of choice is to attend a summer program at that school.
While this is never a guarantee of admission, getting to know faculty, the campus, the atmosphere and feeling of a school prior to application can be extraordinarily beneficial to the future of a high school musical theatre student.
Which is one of the many reasons I am including the University of Michigan’s incredible MPulse summer program in musical theatre on my selective list of excellent summer programs.
The University of Michigan itself is one of the top schools at the undergraduate level for musical theatre; in fact, it is the 3rd most represented school on Broadway in 2017.The program focuses on core sessions in training for dancing, acting, and singing, but also places an extra emphasis on auditioning specifically for university programs. Very few summer musical theatre programs offer this benefit.
Of course, it is very selective; just 40 students who are entering their junior or senior years are selected to attend this course. Participants of the program do get to work alongside faculty who actually teach in the musical theatre program at Michigan, a tremendous benefit for the student especially interested in applying to this fine university.
University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music (Cincinnati, OH)
Like Michigan, AMDA, and NYU, I recommend Cincinnati due to the program’s housing in a major university for musical theatre.
The aim of the Cincinnati summer musical theatre program is simple; providing students with a college-like experience preparing them for being a musical theatre major in college.
CCM itself is the oldest undergraduate musical theatre program of its kind, and was initially used by the National Association of Schools for Theatre when creating its accreditation guidelines.
On the next page, I outline part 5 of this list, summer programs in jazz and contemporary/popular music