Music Theatre, MA

Duration: One year, full-time, September start. Full-time, on-site attendance between July and August is not mandatory.

Award: Master of Arts in Music Theatre (180 credits)

Study the Music Theatre MA at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
Overview

Conservatoire-style training for actors, singers, musicians, dancers and theatre practitioners to develop performance techniques and creative skills, along with an understanding of music theatre as it spans a range of potential forms: from conventional Broadway and West End repertoire to opera, actor-musicianship and new writing.

About the course

This course integrates acting, dance, movement, singing and spoken voice within a framework of relevant practice and research, in order to train students to a professional level of performance. Professional artists deliver classes and workshops to complement the core teaching staff. Emphasis is placed on acquiring and practising skills through creativity, collaboration and performance within all aspects of music theatre. Imagination and creativity are valued, and are explored from many different perspectives.

Where students demonstrate skill and interest, there are opportunities to create original work and to pursue related activities, such as composing, writing, choreography and acting with instruments.

Course Detail

This master’s level, conservatoire-style training provides the opportunity for music and theatre practitioners to develop performance techniques and creative skills and experience some of the diversity of music theatre forms.

The course integrates acting, dance and movement, singing and spoken voice within a framework of relevant theory and research, in order to train students to a professional level of artistry and technique. Specialist lecturers and professional artists deliver classes and workshops that complement a teaching staff with long-term experience across the profession. Emphasis is placed on acquiring and practising skills through creativity and performance within all aspects of music theatre, from conventional Broadway and West End repertoire to new writing and opera. Our work is multi-disciplinary: collaboration and teamwork, imagination and creativity underpin all activities.

The course is intense and demanding; fitness is assessed at audition and monitored through the year. There are opportunities to create original work and to pursue related activities, such as composing, writing, choreography and acting with instruments. Research is embedded, reflecting the specific methodologies required by performers at a professional level.

Term One provides acting, dance and movement classes, alongside individual singing lessons that continue throughout the year. Conditioning classes underpin health and well-being for performers.

Performance workshops, actor-musicianship and choral ensemble work are activities designed to synthesise these skills and lead to a better understanding of professional demands.

Term Two includes six performances of an ensemble production in a studio theatre directed by a professional team showcasing the individual specific skills of the company members. Opportunities to develop composition, writing, choreography and instrumental performance may be integrated into the curriculum. Skills in term one are targeted towards specialised performance requirements. An Industry Day brings students in dialogue with agents and casting directors at the decision-making centre of the performers’ life. Term Two concludes with an industry showcase.

Term Three comprises a full-scale public production of a contemporary work in the Embassy Theatre. Acting, singing and dance/movement continue as part of preparation for that performance. The course frequently commissions and premieres new work. The term ends with a unit which prepares students for industry-standard audition techniques.

Term Four is devoted to the Sustained Independent Project, the character of which reflects the student’s strengths across research, writing, performing or creating. The research, performing and creating experiences from previous units contribute to this final piece of work.

Assessment

Students are assessed by public performances, professional assessment in classwork and written submissions.

Download MA Music Theatre Course Specification 2016-2017 (448.31 KB)

Professional Focus

The teaching team reflects professional performance and creative practice of the highest quality across a varied cultural stage: from musical theatre through to opera; from television to film; from classic acting to actor-musicians; from West-End franchises to innovative exploration; from creating new companies to new media. The course encourages self-motivation and entrepreneurship and brings students into contact with agents and visiting professionals.

Core teaching team

Steve Elias (dance), Emma Caplan (acting), Deborah Garvey (voice), Hazel Gold (dance), Maria Huesca (singing), Julian Kelly (music), Ewa Kolodziejska (coaching), Arthur Kyeyune (movement), David Merriman (music), Rebecca Reeves (research).

Recent Visiting teaching Staff

Directors

Bill Bankes-Jones, Jo Davies, Janie Dee, Joe Deer, Suzy Catliff, Ed Goggin, Kate Golledge, Stephen Clark, Simon Greiff, Thomas Hescott.

Musical Directors

David Charles Abell, Derek Barnes, Richard Balcombe, Joshua Rosenblum.

Producers, Agents etc

Andy Barnes, Ellie Collyer-Bristow, Jane Deitch, Lisa Hull, Anne McNulty.

Entry Requirements and Admissions

Offers will be based on merit alone. Scholarships are available.

Music Theatre, MA students come from many and diverse backgrounds and disciplines. Combined skills far exceed the traditional areas of acting, singing and movement which, however, remain fundamental. Diversity is regarded as a core ability, not only to enter the course, but also to survive the marketplace afterwards. The course encourages no division between creators and performers, establishing collaboration as the central ethic of performance.

You should normally have an undergraduate degree in a relevant field, (drama, theatre or performance studies), though applications from students of other disciplines will be considered, as will candidates who do not have a degree but do possess significant prior experience. Experience as a performer is essential. Entry is by audition; we look for potential and sustainable employability after the course.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.

English Language

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test. We do accept equivalent English language qualifications. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.

Auditions in London

If you are selected for an audition for a place on the Music Theatre, MA course, we will require you to prepare the following:

  • A written document of approximately 600 words, to evaluate and contextualise music theatre and/or musical theatre and its potential, from the point of view of your own experience and imagination
  • Two songs and two monologues which may be taken from any genre or style, or be original, to be performed from memory. Songs should be presented with a piano score. An extra copy of the songs should be brought for the accompanist (be sure that any relevant material is properly presented for the accompanist to turn pages and read), and copies of the monologues. You will be asked to perform some but probably not all of the material you prepare.

The course objectives are to explore, research and present the widest possible interpretation of the definition of music theatre. A diverse range of performance and creative skills is targeted specifically in relation to performance, alongside developed musical and physical skills. The audition day seeks to find students who may best benefit from these objectives, and be potentially employable after the course. Therefore, as well as an existing degree or professional experience equivalence, we are inviting prospective students to demonstrate expertise in the following skills:

  • singing; acting; movement or dance.

In addition you may be able to demonstrate experience in the following areas:

  • composition; writing for stage; choreography; instrumental performance.

Please be sure to give us every opportunity to evaluate your abilities by bringing evidence.

The following activities, as appropriate, will take place during the session:

  • group movement activity
  • individual singing performance presentation, in front of the group (accompanist provided; work under direction)
  • individual monologue presentation, in front of group (work under direction)
  • individual skills performance or evidence assessment – informal interview as necessary
  • question and answers.

Please bring clothes to move freely in and a change of clothes if you require. The length of the audition session will generally be about three hours.

International Auditions

Each year Central hosts a number of auditions outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international auditions are designed to replicate the London-based audition experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming audition locations and dates.

Distance Auditions

Central does allow applicants to undertake a distance audition for this course. If you live abroad and are unable to attend an audition in person you may, at the discretion of the Admissions Tutor, be offered the opportunity of a distance audition. If you are selected for audition in this manner you will be contacted (normally by email) in order to arrange a suitable time for an audition. This will be conducted on Skype, telephone or by ‘live’ email exchange and will normally be based upon material you will have been asked to submit in advance. The audition will be conducted by the Admissions Tutor in liaison with a colleague who will have sight of your submitted materials.

For further information see the How to Apply section.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.

Staff

View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.

Beyond Central

Graduate employment includes:

West End

Sweeney Todd (ENO), The Commitments, The Scottsboro Boys, The Book Of Mormon, The Lion King, The Colour Purple, Ghost the Musical, Legally Blonde, Chicago, The Bodyguard, Beautiful, Exposure: the Musical, Aladdin, Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Made in Dagenham

UK

Kiss me Kate (Opera North and Welsh Opera); Fiddler On The Roof, (Grange Park Opera; the Proms); Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (UK tour); Love Story (Southwark Playhouse); On a Clear Day…(Union Theatre); Little Shop of Horrors (UK tour); Blood Brothers (UK tour), Parade (Manchester); Dirty Dancing (UK tour); Singin’ in the Rain (UK tour); Calamity Jane (UK tour).

Film

Skyfall; The White King; Perfect Hunch of an Agoraphobe; Everyone Knows.

Television

Hollyoaks (ITV); Casualty (BBC1); Cuffs (BBC1); The Future Wag's of Great Britain (Channel 4); One Child (BBC2); The Girl’s Guide To Depravity (US).

Video games

Evie Frye in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe (The Oresteia, Measure for Measure, 946); National Theatre (Caroline or Change, The Amen Corner, A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer); Young Vic Theatre (Feast, Been So Long); Regents Park (Porgy & Bess); Duke of York’s Theatre (Posh); Kneehigh Theatre Company (943).

Alumni

Notable graduates of this course include:

Matthew Atkins (2013) theatre credits include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (UK Tour), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Twickenham Theatre), Hamlet (Open Air Tour) and The Rocky Horror Show (Manchester Palace Theatre).

Adebayo Bolaji (2008) film and television credits include Cucumber (Channel 4), Les Misérables and Skyfall. Theatre credits include Ghost The MusicalThe Colour Purple (Menier Chocolate Factory) and The Scottsboro Boys (Young Vic).

Rebecca Jade Hammond (2009) theatre credits include Love Steals Us From Loneliness (Camden People’s Theatre), Sexual Perversity in Chicago (Tristan Bates Theatre) and A Streetcar Named Desire (Theatre Royal Bath).

Oliver Lidert (2007) West End theatre credits include Aladdin (Prince Edward Theatre), Beautiful (Aldwych Theatre), The Lion King (The Lyceum Theatre) and The Book of Mormon (The Prince of Wales Theatre).  

Andrew Mathys (2006) theatre credits include Philip Pullman's The Firework Maker's Daughter (The Bloomsbury Theatre), Die Tote Stadt (The Royal Opera House) and James and the Giant Peach (Polka Theatre).

Felix Mosse (2013) currently plays Jean Prouvaire in the West End’s Les Misérables, his other theatre credits include The Book of Mormon (The Prince of Wales Theatre), Love Me Tender (No.1 UK Tour), A Winter’s Tale (Oxford Stage Company) andThe Heights (Connections Festival).

Ruth Clarke-Irons (2006) is a member of the Principal Theatre Company, with productions includingThe Merry Wives of Windsor, The Tempest and As You Like It. She also performed in the award winning UK Tour of Woody Sez. 

Notable International Alumni

Tsai Pao-chang (Taiwan); Robin Evan Willis (Canada); Victoria Atkin (UK/US); Windson Liong (Singapore and UK)

Current Students

Related Courses

Testimonials

Tamar Broadbent
Tamar Broadbent

Graduated 2012, musical comedian on tour with her second solo show All By My Selfie, having showed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 and on BBC Radio 4’s Fresh From The Fringe. She recently toured the show at the Adelaide Fringe, Australia.

I felt that the community feel of the course was one of the best things about it for me. The friends I made at Central are still some of my closest friends now, and we help and support each other along in our careers. I also enjoyed the extra composer classes organised for us, where we would come in and share songs that we had written. As a musical theatre composer this offered a platform to share my work and gave me more confidence in my writing.

Matthew Atkins
Matthew Atkins

Graduated 2013, actor and musician on Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (UK Tour), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barbour Of Fleet Street (Twickenham Theatre), Seabourn: Odyssey (Cruise Line), Hamlet (Open Air Tour), Story Box (Lost Theatre), The Rocky Horror Show (Manchester Palace Theatre).

When choosing a place to study a postgraduate degree, Central stood out due to the diversity and flexibility of the course structure, focusing on acting, singing, movement, composing and actor musicianship. I tailored the course to fit my skills and this helped me to secure an open-minded agency and keep my creative options open once leaving Central. I learnt to demand a level of professionalism and discipline from my work and my career path.

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