If it were possible, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) Bachelor of Music in musical theater program would take a bow for being named number nine on the Onstage Blog’s Top 10 List.
“This is a great program that equips our students to have a breadth of expertise in music, dance and theater when they graduate,” said Marc Schapman, DM, associate professor in CAS’ Department of Music and director of the musical theater program.
OnStage is a blog dedicated to Broadway and community theater show reviews and highlights of famous stage directors, actors and technicians.
According to OnStage Blog, people experienced in specific fields determine its rankings. “Our research staff includes current and former educators, students, alumni and working professionals in the areas of dance, design and technology, and performing,” noted the Blog. “Also, as opposed to other college ranking publications, colleges don’t pay us to be ranked. These rankings are focused on what is most important to those pursuing a career in the theatrical arts by those who know these industries.”
Rankings are based on the following criteria:
- Quality of facilities
- Cost and scholarship opportunities
- Quality of faculty (terminal degrees, professional experience, and full-time versus adjunct)
- Admissions, auditions and selectivity
- Quality of curriculum
- Career and alumni support
- Performance opportunities
The Departments of Music and Theater and Dance decided within the last five years to collaborate and set the stage for success for students in the musical theater program, according to Schapman.
“Our two departments worked well together and did a magnificent job on Summer Showbiz and other collaborative productions,” he said. “When we did “Fame” in 2012, we sold out. The students were so excited about it, and we said, ‘let’s figure out how to make this work as a degree.’”
“We redesigned the curriculum,” continued Schapman. “In the redesign, courses were added like Broadway style dance, history of American theater and a seminar in audition techniques.”
“Now, students get to work on actual productions, which increases opportunities to perform. In November (7-11), we are doing ‘Chicago.’”
“This program is unique. Our professors celebrate our individuality as artists, and we are not trained to be cookie-cutter performers,” said senior Zora Vredeveld. “I came into this program a completely different person, and I have grown into a much more confident and well-rounded performer. SIUE’s musical theater program gives students the opportunity to train in musical theater, as well as opera, modern dance and many other styles.”
“I also entered this program because of the amazing faculty,” added Vredeveld. “After I graduate in May, I plan to move to New York City to begin my career in performing.”
College of Arts and Sciences: Central to SIUE’s exceptional and comprehensive education, the College of Arts and Sciences has 19 departments and 85 areas of study. More than 300 full-time faculty/instructors deliver classes to more than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty help students explore diverse ideas and experiences, while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of the global community. Study abroad, service-learning, internships, and other experiential learning opportunities better prepare SIUE students not only to succeed in our region’s workplaces, but also to become valuable leaders who make important contributions to our communities.
Students in SIUE CAS’ musical theater program include (front row, L-R): Trystan Davis, Zora Vredeveld and Miles Wadlington, and (back row, L-R) Jared Lauritson and Patterson Friese.
Shown in rehearsal are students Sydney Martin, left, and Kayla Bush.