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Program Spotlight: Marymount Manhattan College

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

Bring It On! at Marymount Manhattan College. Photo by Susan Cook Photography

Marymount Manhattan College is a small school in the heart of the Big Apple. Located on the Upper East Side, they recently established their BFA in Musical Theatre program. My daughter will be in one of their first BFA graduating classes, so MMC holds a special place in my heart. Thanks, Christine Riley, for the overview.

About Musical Theatre at Marymount Manhattan:

Acting, singing and dancing are at the center of our Musical Theatre Curriculum. BFA Musical Theatre students are in an acting class every semester during the four-year program, including two years of advanced classes that focus on acting for musical theatre, a dance class every morning (5 days a week in ballet, theatre dance, and tap) and a weekly private voice lesson.

Our program requirements also include Music Fundamentals, Musical Theatre History, Voice and Speech, Song Study, Song Portfolio, and Professional Preparation (including a senior showcase). In addition, some of the electives we offer are: Directing Musicals, Cabaret Performance, Rock/Pop Performance, Acting For The Camera, Performing Shakespeare, Songwriting in the Studio, Puppetry, and Actor, Role, Celebrity: The Haunted Body on the Musical Stage.

How many students, in general, does your program accept every year?

This past year, we auditioned approximately 1200 students. Of those students who complete the application and audition process, about 1 in 5 is offered admission to the Theatre Department. On average, we are looking to bring in 40-45 students for the BFA Acting Program and 40-45 students for the BFA in Musical Theatre. For the non-performance concentrations in the BA Theatre Arts Major, we enroll approximately 30 students per year.

How many students, in total, are currently enrolled in your program?

We currently have 220 students in our BFA Musical Theatre program.

What’s unique about your program?

New York – the center of theatre in the United States – is an amazing city in which to find your artistic voice. The College is centrally located in Manhattan and offers classes that allow students to experience the richness of the city. Our students are exposed to great theatre – on Broadway, Off-Broadway, along Theatre Row, and downtown in experimental theatres. Performance research and study is available throughout the city – Broadway plays on video at The Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, films at the Museum of Modern Art, ballet and modern dance at the Joyce Theatre and Alvin Ailey, archival research and visual art at museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as in the galleries of SoHo, production design at Cooper Union and in the City’s professional scenic and lighting shops and sound studios. Annual theatre festivals provide a chance to see theatre companies from around the world and every year film festivals provide the best in newly released independent films as well as retrospectives of classics.

Internships: Marymount Manhattan offers excellent internships that help students gain work experience, resume credits and develop professional relationships. Theatre Arts students have interned with Jim Henson Productions Muppet Workshop, The Audio Engineering Society, Manhattan Theatre Club, HB Playwrights Foundation, Playwrights Horizons, New York Shakespeare Festival, Saturday Night Live, New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Joyce Soho, P.S. 122, Willow Cabin Theatre Company, HERE Performance Space, Nuyorican Poets Café, Second Stage Theatre, PBS, HBO, CBS, NBC, ABC, as well as with many Broadway and Off-Broadway theatres, New York City cultural institutions, and in the offices of numerous producers, casting directors and theatrical agents.

Our students start every day with a dance class!

Marymount Manhattan College is a liberal arts school, giving our students an intensive BFA program in the context of the liberal arts. We believe that Marymount graduates are well-rounded and not only ready to perform but go out into the world as “creative changemakers.”

Tell us a little bit about the musical theatre faculty at your school:

We’re proud to have a diverse musical theatre faculty with a wide range of experiences to share with the next generation of performers. Program Director Patricia Hoag Simon, MFA Florida Atlantic University, has over thirty years experience designing music theatre curriculum and has curated a faculty who anchor our classes: Bethany Christine Elkin, MFA San Diego State; Christine Riley, MM Arizona State; and Emily Clark, PhD from CUNY. Our 14 daily dance faculty include Dana Moore (Broadway dancer for Bob Fosse and consultant for Fosse/Verdon on FoxFX), Rommy Sandhu (dance captain for Kathleen Marshall, Susan Stroman and Matthew Bourne), Mandarin Wu (assistant to Baayork Lee) and Stephane Duret (Lola in KINKY BOOTS on Broadway). Private Voice is taught off-site in professional studios by a faculty who include Tony nominee Vivian Reed, Olivier nominee Damon Evans, head of NAST for New Jersey, Jonathan Price, and the legendary Joyce Hall. Our faculty, guest directors, choreographers and music directors are all working professionals who bring their expertise and passion for their craft to our students.

Are there any recent productions you’re particularly proud of?

Our performance opportunities include fully produced Fall and Spring musicals on campus or partnered with The York Theatre at Citicorp Center as well as a yearly off-site Studio Workshop production at venues such as the National Dance Institute.  Additionally, each year we are funded by the Frederick Loewe Foundation for a special project in musical theatre such as a staged reading of a new work, concert or series of master classes. 

Recent productions include: Bring it On, Good News, Grease, The Who’s Tommy, Oh What a Lovely War, Starlight Express, Merrily We Roll Along, Parade, Kiss Me, Kate, The Boys from Syracuse, Dracula the Musical, Wonderland: A New Alice, and The Light in the Piazza.

How about alumni?

Marymount Manhattan College theatre alumni are working on Broadway, off-Broadway, in television, in film, at regional theatres, and everywhere in between. Many of our students also go on to graduate schools across the country and the world.

Currently on Broadway:

(Tony Nominee) Adrienne Warren (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical; previously – Shuffle Along; Bring It On)

James Cusati-Moyer (Slave Play)

Mike Longo (Aladdin; previously - Kinky Boots; BEAUTIFUL The Carole King Musical)

Nadia Brown (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)

Other Recent Broadway Alumni Credits include:

(Tony Winner) Annaleigh Ashford (Sunday in the Park with George; Sylvia; You Can’t Take it With You; Kinky Boots; Wicked; Legally Blonde)

Emmy Raver-Lampman (Hamilton; A Night with Janis Joplin; Jekyll & Hyde; Hair)

Julia Knitel (BEAUTIFUL The Carole King Musical)

Ian Fitzgerald (Kinky Boots)

Jason Gotay (Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark; Bring it On; Evita at City Center)

What is your program’s “best kept secret”? Taking advantage of our New York City location, master classes, lectures and panels have been and continue to be offered by Broadway’s finest such as Harold Prince, composers Stephen SondheimGalt McDermott, and Sheldon Harnick, stage and film actor F. Murray Abraham, the playwrights Christopher DurangDavid Henry HwangMarsha Norman and David Mamet, and James Hammerstein discussing the work of Oscar Hammerstein II, Betty Buckley, Jeff Calhoun, Donna McKechnie, Lonny Price, Frank Wildhorn, Chita Rivera, Adam Guettel and Tommy Tune. We also have an endowed series of master classes in honor of the late Andrew Zerman (Casting Director, Johnson, Liff and Zerman Casting and former adjunct Professor at MMC).

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