The Program in Music Theater brings together students, faculty, staff and guest artists in the creation, study, and performance of music theater. In the classroom, we are focused on investigating the history and contemporary landscape of music theater as an intensely collaborative art form, as a key component of world cultures, and as an entertainment genre that shapes and is shaped by history, politics, context, musical forms and technology. In the studio, the rehearsal room and onstage, we are primarily focused on the future of music theater (whether that be musicals, opera, cabaret, experimental music theater, song cycles or otherwise) through fostering the creation of new music theater by students and working with innovative professional artists.
The Program in Music Theater is a small part of a large and diverse community of artists, faculty and staff across campus and at the Lewis Center, and we expect students to take advantage of the extraordinary range of course offerings in the Program in Theater, the Program in Dance, and the Department of Music to create their course of study. Academic courses in the Music Theater Program itself range from the study of Sondheim musicals to Latinx musicals on stage and screen. Studio courses have recently included an interactive performance project with Tony-nominated choreographer and director Sam Pinkleton, and a participatory musical written, composed and directed by Cesar Alvarez. Extra-curricular and co-curricular classes and workshops include skills such as singing for the musical stage, theatrical choreography and dance and music direction for musicals.
Most of our productions, in a season shared with the theater program, emerge from proposals by certificate students in their junior year who are seeking the opportunity to write, compose, direct, music direct, perform, design, or stage manage theatrical projects under the guidance of visiting artists and our professional faculty and staff. Typically, these projects are new music theater pieces written or composed by students, or small ensemble or solo music theater projects. Each year, we offer at least one or two additional music theater performance projects led by faculty or guest artists, in the context of classes taken for credit. Usually these projects are new or less well known music theater pieces rather than large scale extant musicals. All theatrical projects in the theater and music theater programs are open for participation by all students at Princeton as performers, run crew, stage management and designers.
We present these productions in the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Theatre at the McCarter Theatre Center, and in the on-campus Wallace Black Box and Drapkin Studio, as well as in other traditional and nontraditional venues on campus.
In addition, studies are augmented by collaborations with McCarter Theatre as well as travel to nearby New York and Philadelphia to see performances, observe rehearsals, explore archives, and meet artists and scholars. Music theater is a lively part of undergraduate life at Princeton. Extracurricular performances of music theater abound, from the Triangle Club to Princeton University Players to numerous other student groups. Academically, the study of opera has long been a part of the music curriculum.