Updated: May 23
Dr. Jessica Hillman shares about New York state's westernmost school in the State University of New York network with an overview of their musical theatre program.
Name of your school: SUNY Fredonia
How long has your BFA program been in existence? 25 years
How many students, in general, does your program accept every year? We aim for approximately 20-25 musical theatre majors in a class. (Large classes are split into 2 sections for performance classes to ensure better teacher to student ratios).
How many students, in total, are currently enrolled in your program? We have approximately 100 musical theatre and acting BFAs. We also have BFAs in dance and technical theatre and production, and a BA in theatre. The department as a whole has over 300 students.
What's unique about your program? Fredonia has the most comprehensive selection of theatrical degree programs in the SUNY system. With Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Acting, Dance, Musical Theatre, and Theatrical Production and Design, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts, no other SUNY can offer the range of experiences or opportunities that Fredonia does. Musical Theatre students receive weekly 1-hour private lessons in voice all four years, extensive music coursework, four years of acting instruction, and coursework in multiple styles of dance, including jazz, tap, contemporary and ballroom. Here, we seek not to produce “cookie-cutter” actors, singers, and dancers, but to help our students find and develop their own unique creative voices, as well as to provide them with the skills critical to success in the professional world. Additionally, as fully 20% of Fredonia’s student body majors in the performing and/or visual arts, we have built a well-deserved reputation as SUNY’s Fine Arts Campus. Tell us a little bit about the musical theatre faculty at your school: Our faculty are dedicated and active artists and professionals who are passionate about teaching. We have 16 voice professors, 5 acting faculty, and 5 dance faculty who all teach in the program. Learn more about our faculty here.
Are there any recent productions you're particularly proud of? We've returned to actively producing theatre in the post COVID world in order to provide our students with hands-on learning experiences. This past year our alum, Jen Cody, came to choreograph our production of Lippa's The Wild Party, and taught many workshops to our students during her residency. In past years, recent large scale productions of SPRING AWAKENING and HAIR were particularly rewarding, and we also aim to provide a wide range of musical theatre styles in our season, including black box musicals, student run productions, readings and musical revues. To learn more about our productions, visit our program's website.
How about alumni? Our alumni are thriving in multiple markets and employed in a wide range of arts fields. We have had many alums on Broadway including in PHANTOM, ONCE, AVENUE Q, URINETOWN, ROCKY, LION KING, LES MISERABLES and others, on National Tours including HAMILTON and JERSEY BOYS, and working in major markets around the country. We also have alums with multiple film and commercial credits, and careers in improv and many other parts of the business. Alums include Jen Cody, Evan Harrington, Craig Schulman and Mary McDonnell. We offer a NYC showcase in the final semester and connect current students to our alumni network. What is your program's "best-kept secret"? We offer a focused, conservatory-style professional training within a rich and wide-ranging liberal arts education, competitive with the best musical theatre programs, at an in-state tuition cost for New York residents, (and reduced rate for our neighbors, PA and OH). We have brand new facilities in a gorgeous new building addition with multiple studios and upgrades for our theaters. Tour our spaces. Anything else? We offer dedicated faculty and small class ratios, and a strong and active community where students and faculty support each other and work to help their peers.
Learn more about SUNY Fredonia and its musical theatre program by visiting this link.
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