Spotlight on a BFA Musical Theatre program located about 45 minutes south of Birmingham in beautiful Montevallo, Alabama.
How long has your BFA program been around?
UM has a long tradition of training outstanding singers, including Rebecca Luker. The BFA Musical Theatre program in its current form has been around for about 10 years.
How many students, in general, does your program accept every year?
We offer 10 Musical Theatre BFA slots each year, around 10 BFA Acting slots each year and somewhere around 10 BFA Design/Tech positions. We offer a BA/BS degree track that is open to all students interested in pursuing a degree in Theatre.
How many students, in total, are enrolled in your program?
30 musical theatre; 110 total in the department
What's unique about your program?
We train and develop students that want to cultivate their individual artistry in a focused and nurturing environment. We really want our students to find their unique artistic voice and learn how to maximize its use throughout many mediums.
Tell us a little about the musical theatre faculty at your school.
Our Musical Theatre Faculty consist of Dr. David Callaghan (Head of BFA Musical Theatre), Amy Murphy (Voice), Marcus Lane (Acting) and Michael Walker (Voice and Acting). Our voice teachers have extensive experience in teaching students to sing a variety of musical styles with a strong, healthy technique, including pop/rock (they also teach in private studios in Birmingham as well as NYC). The performance faculty were all based in NYC before beginning teaching careers, working at theatres such as The Walnut Street Theatre, McCarter, Manhattan Theatre Club, The MUNY, Surflight Theatre, national tours including "Hairspray", "Seussical", and "Grease", as well as TV and Film projects. Our faculty continue to work professionally at theatres such as The Anteus in Los Angeles, Black Repertory Theatre in St. Louis and Red Mountain Theatre Company in Birmingham, including new musical development.
Tell us about recent productions you're particularly proud of.
We constantly strive to present material that speaks to the current industry trends and reflects issues that are relevant to our students. We also strive to produce shows that are having a regional premiere.
Last year we presented "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert". We currently have musical theatre students that are transitioning and we wanted to provide them with the opportunity to work on material that addresses many of the challenges that they are facing. Another recent production we are proud of was "Hair". We felt like this show was socially and politically relevant, but also provided our students an opportunity to research the history of the show. Lastly, I would mention "Carrie". This show was a regional premiere for us, which is something that we try to consider in our selection of material. We were particularly proud of this production because we were able to successfully execute many of the special effects in the show. We also worked very hard to make the show feel contemporary despite being a period show.
How about alumni?
Alumni have worked at organizations such as The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Walnut Street Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Theatre on the Square, The Lost Colony, Theatre West Virginia, Dollywood, Universal Studios, AEA Actor at Disneyworld, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Thunder Bay Theatre, Mountain Playhouse, Serenbee Theatre, Red Mountain Theatre Company, Birmingham Children's Theatre, The Black Repertory Theatre St. Louis; Players Club, NY; New York Musical Festival; NY International Fringe Festival; “Dynasty” on the CW network; Roundabout Theatre Company Casting Office; Gersh Agency Literary Office; Stephen Elkins and Rebecca Aparicio, composer and lyricist/librettist for PEDRO PAN; Jason Styres, CSA, Owner of Jason Styres Casting, NY; Rebecca Aparicio, Assistant and Associate Director for Diane Paulus, Sammi Cannold, Emily Mann and directing residency at the Flea Theatre, NY.
What is your program's "best-kept secret"?
We are a hidden gem in the state of Alabama. We are a dynamic and immersive Theatre training program set amongst the rolling horse farms of Central Alabama; yet, we are very connected to the national Theatre industry, 45 minutes away from the city of Birmingham, and one hour away from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
The department is fully moving to a $25 million new Center for the Arts in January 2020; actively participates in the NYC A1 auditions; and are 1 of 4 schools participating in The Growing Studio's Unified Musical Theatre Senior Showcase in NYC.