From opera to Broadway musicals to experimental music theater, the many hybrids of singing, acting, and movement are among the most historically significant, socially relevant, and artistically adventurous forms of performance. With a liberal arts education as its base, Princeton’s Certificate Program in Music Theater encourages students to explore 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, economics, politics, and technology.
The Program in Music Theater, part of the Lewis Center for the Arts, encompasses Princeton’s curricular tripartite of creation, performance, and study. Students in the Program take courses in Music, Theater, and Dance, as well as related courses in other departments, taught by faculty across the university who compose, write, create, perform, and research music theater’s various forms that combine music, dance, text, and design. Additional classes are taught by visiting guest artists. Students can create new music theater work, participate in music theater production, and/or produce new scholarship in music theater history, theory, and criticism.
Admission to the Program
The music theater program is open to all students who are committed to music theater practice and/or scholarship. Students may begin taking courses towards a certificate and fulfilling student show support requirements in their first year at Princeton. There is no application to become a certificate student — all students are accepted into the Program in Music Theater, and register for the certificate online. Students wishing to propose a realized production for the theater and music theater season are strongly encouraged to take the junior methods seminar during their junior year.
Program of Study
Requirements for the Certificate in Music Theater:
1) COURSEWORK (A total of five courses)
Students must take as one course in theater (THR), one course in music (MUS) and one course in dance (DAN). Students must also take two courses that focus on any form of music theater, including opera, American musical theater, and experimental music theater. These courses can be academic or practice-based. MTD courses count, of course, as do many courses in other Departments and Programs not cross-listed with MTD. Please direct questions about specific courses to Joe Fonseca or Professor Stacy Wolf.
For students in the Class of 2025 and beyond, THR/MTD 101 is a required course, which can count as the certificate’s required THR course or as one of the MTD courses. (Students in the Classes of 2022-24 are strongly encouraged to take THR/MTD 101.) Students who wish to propose a realized theatrical project for our student driven theater season are strongly encouraged to participate in THR/MTD 402, a collaborative methods seminar focused around the process of making theater, during their junior year.
(Note: certain applicable courses taken to satisfy requirements for the Theater certificate can also be used to satisfy requirements for the Music Theater certificate)
2) SENIOR INDEPENDENT WORK
This work might take the form of creating a music theater piece: composing the music and/or writing the lyrics and/or writing the book. It might be the direction of a production, the performance of a major role, or the design or dramaturgy of a production, under the supervision of faculty and professional staff, independently, or in conjunction with another campus-producing organization. This work might be an independent scholarly paper or another music theater-oriented project. Projects in the theater and music theater program season should fulfill the requirements of creative research — bringing new ideas and contexts to theater-making and taking intellectual and creative risks.
Music Theater students who wish to propose a realized project as part of the Theater program production season, using theater program equipment, space and/or staff, are strongly encouraged to participate in the Theater Program’s collaborative methods seminar, THR 402, during the junior year, and are expected to participate in a research process that begins in the fall of the junior year. Please reach out to Jane Cox, Stacy Wolf or Elena Araoz for more information about proposing a realized project for our season. Not all student proposals can be accepted into the season.
Students who elect not to propose a realized project to the Theater Program’s season can complete senior independent work two ways. One is by writing, acting, designing, directing, stage managing or participating in a project in the theater and music theater season that has been chosen by other students or by the program. The other is by proposing an academic theatrical exploration, independent performance studies project or any other project (such as writing a piece of music theater that you do not expect to be performed) that does not require the use of theater program staff, space, or equipment.
Students may choose to do an independent performance studies project approved by and under the supervision of Program in Theater faculty. If the student’s department permits, they might complete their departmental senior thesis on a topic approved by the Program in Music Theater faculty. This independent work could take the form of a textual, cultural, or theoretical study; or it could be a combination of research and practical work supervised by the program faculty and the student’s departmental adviser.
If a student is working towards completing certificates in both theater and music theater, they should focus their senior year independent work on one theatrical project in which they take a significant leadership role, and fulfill the needs of the other certificate in a different way. Students taking both certificates may only propose one project for our season. Many students are able to combine their thesis for their major with senior year independent work in music theater.
3) STUDENT SHOW SUPPORT REQUIREMENT
All students hoping to get a theater and/or music theater certificate must complete the Student Show Support Requirement (formerly known as tech credits) by supporting two program shows in a non-performance capacity. Students who would like to propose a realized theatrical project for their senior year independent work must have completed at least one of their student show support requirements prior to the proposal deadline, usually early March in the junior year, and have a plan to complete all of the requirements prior to the end of their junior year. Through supporting two theater program projects, you will get to know our students, our staff, our venues and our practices, and become a more well-rounded and educated member of our community. For more information about the Student Show Support Requirement, please reach out to Production Stage Manager Carmelita Becnel at email@example.com.
(Note: Students also earning the certificate in Theater only need to fulfill one set of Student Show Support requirements)
4) COMMUNITY MEETINGS AND EVENTS
Given that collaboration is at the heart of theater making, a successful theatrical education has to be rooted in an engaged community. At the start of each academic year, students will be required to attend a meeting of all theater and music theater certificate students. In addition, the music theater program will require occasional certificate student attendance at workshops aimed at supporting our ability to create art in a collaborative manner. Each year, the theater program hosts, produces or presents a variety of theatrical events and symposia; certificate students are expected to participate in or attend at least one significant theatrical event in each of their junior and senior years. The theater program also provides a wide array of workshops, events and trips to the theater for our certificate students.
PROGRAM IN MUSIC THEATER COURSES
We anticipate that at least five of these courses will be taught each year:
AMS 315 / MTD 315 / THR 344 / AAS 309: Race & the American from Minstrelsy to Hamilton
AMS 317 / MTD 321 / THR 322 / ENG 249: The Musicals of Stephen Sondheim and the Making of America
AMS 365 / GSS 365 / THR 365 / ENG 365: Isn’t It Romantic? The Broadway Musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim
DAN 321: Special Topics in Dance History: Choreographers on Broadway
ENG 376 / THR 376: Curious Aesthetics: 20th Century American Musical Theatre
ENG 318/ THR 310 / MUS 338: The Musical Theatre of Stephen Sondheim
GSS 337 / MTD 302 / THR 347 / AMS 336: Gender Crossings in American Musical Theater
MTD 101/THR 101: Introduction to Theater-Making
MTD 333 / GSS 228 / LAO 321 / THR 333: Latinx Musicals on Stage and Screen
MTD 335 / MUS 303: The Development of the Multi-Skilled Performer
MTD 341: Acting and Directing for Musical Theater
MUS/MTD 220: The Opera
MUS 223: The Ballet
MUS 214, 219: Projects in Vocal Performance (opera or musical theater topics)
THR 334: The Nature of Theatrical Reinvention
In addition to the courses listed above, the Music Department offers many courses that can be used to satisfy their requirements for the Program in music history, theory, composition, and performance. For additional information on specific courses, students may contact Professor Jamie Reuland, director of undergraduate studies in the music department, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students in the Music Theater Program are encouraged to audition for the Music Department’s choral ensembles. This is an excellent way to build musicianship and be exposed to a wide range of repertory. For more information, please contact Gabriel Crouch, Director of Choral Activities, at email@example.com. Participation in Music Department choral ensembles includes subsidies for private voice lessons.
Students in the Music Theater Program are encouraged to participate in the regular co-curricular classes offered by the Program in Dance.
CERTIFICATE OF PROFICIENCY
Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in music theater upon graduation.
Students wishing to receive a certificate register online at any time prior to senior year.
Theater and Music Theater Season
The Lewis Center for the Arts operates on the principle that rigorous artistic practice is a form of research, innovation, discovery and intervention. The Program in Theater and Music Theater’s season exists to support our students’ artistic practice. We hope to investigate questions about ourselves, others, and the events and systems that affect us all, through the embodied, imaginative and collaborative medium of theater. We strive to interrogate accepted wisdom and explore the underknown in order to better understand our shared humanity, to engage each other in dialog, and to expand knowledge in the theater field. We seek for our theatrical research to be in service of a more caring, just and sustainable world.