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NEW: Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theater

mfa

The Boston Conservatory is proud to now offer a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Musical Theater, the terminal degree for this field of study.

Nationally known for its musical theater training program and large number of alumni working on Broadway, the Conservatory currently offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), as well as the graduate-level Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Musical Theater. The Conservatory now joins San Diego State University as only the second college in the United States to offer the MFA in Musical Theater. 

Overview and Learning Outcomes

The MFA in Musical Theater program is a comprehensive performance-based immersion into the theatrical art form, with an emphasis on musical theater, but also with a strong theoretical and practical focus on the fundamentals and practice of theater in general.

Upon completion of the MFA in Musical Theater, students will be able to:

Perform, direct, and instruct others in the practice of theater—particularly theater that uses music—through comprehensive study and practice within the art form.

Utilize their understanding of historical and contemporary musical theater through analysis, performance, and pedagogical practice. 

  • Perform historical and contemporary theatrical works, informed by an in-depth study of acting, voice, speech, and movement.
  • Sing with a mastery of vocal technique in all styles of the musical theater repertoire, having sharpened their skills in musical theory, score analysis, and character interpretation. 
  • Demonstrate mastery and versatility in ballet and jazz to the highest level needed to support their professional work.
  • Perform and produce cabaret shows, create roles in new works of musical theater, and present themselves successfully to industry professionals. 

Areas of Study include:

  • Musical Theater Styles and Analysis: Tin Pan Alley, comic opera, musical comedy, operetta, Jazz Era, Brecht/Weill, Rodgers and Hammerstein, musical play, Sondheim, contemporary, cabaret
  • Voice and Repertoire: legit/contemporary, operetta/pop opera, standards, radio/pop, film/animation
  • Musical Theater History
  • Musical Theater Dance History
  • Musical Theater Dance Styles
  • Acting
  • Voice and Speech
  • Movement for the Actor
  • Cultural History and the Theater 

Techniques include Stanislavski, Alexander, Viewpoints, Le Coq, Grotowski, Suzuki

Degree Requirements

The 60-credit-hour MFA degree requires five semesters of study, including one intensive summer semester.

Courses of Study: Introduction to Graduate Studies, Musical Theater History 1 and 2, Cultural History and the Theater, Musical Theater Dance History, Musical Theater Styles and Analysis 1-4, Applied Voice and Repertoire 1-4, Acting 1-6, Ballet and Jazz Dance Labs, and Capstone Projects (summer stock, cabaret, showcase).

Performance Opportunities

Diverse performance opportunities exist within and outside the Conservatory so that MFA students may apply their performance skills on stage. Three required, applied capstone performance projects are essential to the MFA program:

Summer Stock (New Works)

Upon completion of the Summer Stock Experience, students will demonstrate the ability to contribute to the ensemble development of a theatrical work – including textual, musical, and character development – and thrive within a constantly changing developmental framework.

Graduate Showcase

Upon completion of the Graduate Showcase Experience, students will have the ability to adapt to a constantly changing professional marketplace, presenting their skills, experience, and presentation style to their best professional advantage.

Cabaret Experience

Upon completion of the Capstone Cabaret Experience, students will demonstrate facility in developing their own cabaret performances, from conception to development to physical production, including mastery of the musical, narrative, and interpretive aspects of the form.

During winter break, MFA students are encouraged to participate in an intensive new-works collaboration between the Conservatory and Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut. In addition, MFA students are eligible to audition for Conservatory main stage and studio productions. 

The Conservatory’s Theater Division has forged collaborations with some of Boston’s and New England’s most critically acclaimed regional theatre companies, including the American Repertory Theater, The Huntington Theatre Company, Goodspeed Opera House, Speakeasy Stage Company, Lyric Stage Company, and the New Repertory Theatre. When casting, these companies frequently hire Boston Conservatory undergraduate and graduate students. 

Admission Requirements & Pre-Requisites

Each year, the Conservatory will admit a cohort of the next leaders of musical theater and theater with music, who are ready to embrace the past, assess the present, and create the future of music theater as an evolving art form. Undergraduate and/or prior professional success will be an important factor in the admissions process. Graduating MFA students are expected to have earned a minimum of a 3.0 or “B” average in their coursework.

Applicants must submit an online application. The Theater Division requires additional application components for the MFA in Musical Theater:

  • A live audition (or recorded audition for international applicants and candidates from Alaska and Hawaii) as well as an interview that examines the candidate’s performance abilities, flexibility, ease as an actor/singer, plus an assessment of the candidate’s dancing ability, with an emphasis on an ability to acquire important dancing skills and an understanding of musical theater dance, both past and present
  • Artistic resumes that reveal a broad ability to play both leading and secondary character roles. Directing and teaching resumes will also be examined.
  • Two letters of recommendation from former teachers at the undergraduate level, professional colleagues, and/or private teachers who know the applicant in an academic and artistic context.

Music Theory Prerequisites: Candidates will demonstrate successful completion of two full years in an undergraduate musicianship or theory course (or demonstrated equivalent). Admitted students will have competent sight-reading ability, basic piano skills, and possess a sound command of music-theory fundamentals. Students who have not met established criteria in undergraduate preparation or basic skill development may be granted conditional admission with the understanding that remedial coursework will be completed (upon enrollment, in advance, or both). 

Musical Theater History Prerequisites: Admitted students will complete a written exam (with multiple-choice, fill-in, and essay questions) to determine whether students can benefit fully from the graduate-level musical theater history course. Students must score above a certain level to be admitted into the course. Those who don't meet the expected level of mastery will read Scott Miller's Strike Up the Band and watch the Broadway: The America Musical DVD series and take a follow-up exam.

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