Program in Music Theater

Faculty

  • Director

    • Stacy E. Wolf
  • Executive Committee

    • Jane F. Cox
    • Wendy Heller
    • Michael J. Pratt
    • Tamsen O. Wolff
  • Associated Faculty

    • Michael W. Cadden
    • Gabriel Crouch
    • Brian E. Herrera
    • Stanley N. Katz
    • Rebecca J. Lazier
    • Steven Mackey
    • Paul B. Muldoon
  • Sits with Committee

    • Martha Elliott
    • Andrew C. Lovett
    • Robert N. Sandberg

Program Information

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 Program in Music Theater is open to all students who are committed to music theater practice and/or scholarship. Students may begin taking courses that count toward certificate requirements in their first year at Princeton and most classes have no prerequisites.  There is no application—all students are accepted into the Program in Music Theater.

Program of Study and Requirements

Requirements for the Certificate in Music Theater:

1) Coursework (a total of five courses):

    One course in theater (THR)

    One course in music (MUS)

    One course in dance (DAN)

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.

  (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.

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 expected to participate in the Theater Program’s collaborative methods seminar, THR 402, during the junior year.

It is possible to complete senior independent work through the Theater Program’s season without proposing a realized project or taking THR 402 in 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. The other is by proposing an academic theatrical exploration, independent performance studies project or any other project (such as writing a play that you do not expect to be performed) that does not require the use of theater program staff, space, or equipment.

Students may elect to do an independent performance studies project approved by and under the supervision of Program in Theater faculty.

If the student's department permits, the student might choose to complete one part of the departmental independent work (senior thesis) on a topic approved by the Program in Music Theater faculty dealing with some facet of music theater in relation to that department's subject matter. 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.

(Note: students also earning the certificate in Theater must complete Senior Independent work unique to the Music Theater certificate.)

3) Technical and production support work:

A certain number of hours of technical work on Program in Theater productions. All technical hours must have been assigned to the student by the thesis proposal deadline date in the junior year, usually late February or early March. At least half of these hours must be completed prior to this deadline; and all technical hours must be completed by the end of junior year.

Students can work in the costume or scene shop, help to build a set or hang lights or locate props, stage manage, run a light or sound board, work on the run crew, or many other jobs. As a benchmark, serving as the stage manager on one production typically fulfills the Program in Theater's tech hours.

Students interested in directing a music theater production in the Program in Theater season are encouraged to stage manage a production in their freshman, sophomore, or junior year as preparation for directing. Stage managing a production for the theater program fulfills the technical work requirement for the program.

(Note:  students also earning the certificate in Theater only need to fulfill one set of tech hours.)

4) Community meetings and events:

Given that collaboration is at the heart of music theater making, a successful music theater education has to be rooted in an engaged community. At the start of each academic year, students will be required to attend a short meeting of all Theater and Music Theater certificate students. In addition, the Theater and Music Theater programs will require occasional certificate student attendance at workshops aimed at supporting our ability to create art in a collaborative manner.  Each year, the Theater and Music Theater programs host, produce, and present a variety of theatrical events and symposia. MTD 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 and Music Theater programs also provide a wide array of workshops, events and trips to the theater for our certificate students.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in music theater upon graduation.

Student-driven theater season:

The Theater and Music Theater program season of theatrical productions and explorations is primarily comprised of projects chosen by junior certificate students who have fulfilled the necessary requirements in terms of coursework and tech hours. Certificate and non-certificate students may participate in these projects as extracurricular activities; certain projects led by faculty may be pursued as coursework. These productions and theatrical explorations may be used to fulfill the requirement for senior independent work in the certificate program. With permission of the student's department of concentration, such projects may also satisfy one of the requirements for independent work in the department, in which case it must consist of or be accompanied by written work, such as a scholarly or critical evaluation.

The mission of the theater and music theater season is to support our students' exploration and development as theater artists. We expect our students to take intellectual and creative risks, and we respect the right of the student and the artist to experiment and to fail.  We believe that an atmosphere of generosity and inclusion best supports creative growth. The theater and music theater programs welcome all students on campus to participate in our student driven theater season. No experience is necessary, and students do not need to be earning a certificate to participate in our productions.

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

ATL 494/MUS 301: Sounding Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Alchemy in Music Theater; Making Comic Opera (Note: Various other Atelier courses focus on music theater projects)

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

GSS 365 / THR 365 / ENG 365 / AMS 365: Isn’t It Romantic? The Broadway Musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim

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, Departmental Representative for the Music Department.     

Studio Lessons:  Students in the Music Theater Program are eligible for a maximum of 5 hours of MTD subsidized voice lessons with a Princeton University instructor.  Students may sign up on the Music Department website (https://www.princeton.edu/music/private-lessons/sign-up/ (link is external)) during registration period of the previous semester or during the first weeks of the semester.

Singers in the program may also wish to consider auditioning 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 (gcrouch@princeton.edu).