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)

About the course

On the MA Music Theatre at Central, we see performers as creators, and regularly produce new works with professional composers, writers, directors and choreographers.

  • Encourages and develops a wide range of skills, with acting, singing and movement at the core, across many genres and styles
  • Experience a diversity of music theatre forms in public productions, from conventional Broadway and West End repertoire to new writing and opera
  • Alumni successes internationally include opera, television, film, live action animation, video-games, theatre, musicals, stand-up comedy and actor-musicianship.

Our approach

An established team of specialist lecturers and professional artists deliver classes and workshops. Our work is multidisciplinary: flexibility and sustainability are at its centre, and collaborative teamwork is the model. Research is embedded, reflecting the specific methodologies required by performers at a professional level.

The course is intense and demanding across four extended terms, alongside enormous commitment from both staff and students. The well-being of the students is fundamental and regular attention to physical, mental and intellectual well-being is uniquely supported.

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.

Structure of the Course

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 learnt in Term One are targeted towards specialised performance requirements. An industry day brings students in to dialogue with agents and casting directors at the decision-making centre of the performer’s life.

Term Two concludes with an industry showcase.

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

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

Assessment

Assessment is by public performances, process, examination and written submissions.

Download MA Music Theatre Programme Specification 2017-2018 (899.49 KB)

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

 

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

  • Dance-movement exercise for all, directed;
  • Solo song performance;
  • Monologue performance;
  • Group movement activity;
  • Interview.

Ahead of the audition, we ask that you prepare the following:

  1. A written document of approximately 500 words in which you state why this particular course is of value to you at this stage in your life and in relation to whatever you have been doing recently and what you hope to be doing in the year after the course. We would be pleased to learn of your understanding of music theatre and musical theatre;
  2. Two contrasting songs in any genre or style, one may be original, both to be performed from memory. At least one should be a theatrical song: the character and plot of the show needs to be researched as well as the dramatic function of the song, and its relationship to others in the scene. The relationship between the words and the music should be clear in performance, as should your understanding of its musical style. Songs must be presented with a piano score. You should pay attention to preparing the music ready for the pianist. If you make photocopies, they should be single-sided and sellotaped together along the long side using a tape which is able to be creased. Prepare your audition if you can by rehearsing with a pianist and singing the song in public beforehand;
  3. Two monologues, at least one of them contemporary and potentially comedic. You may be asked to demonstrate understanding of the play and the character as well as the specific situation and objectives of the monologue. Understanding these relationships and being able to transpose them into other circumstances is the point of the monologue audition. Your choice is important: you need to convince us that you are suitable, the right casting to be offered the role you have chosen as an actor. Prepare for your audition by taking some classes with an acting coach, if you are not already doing so;
  4. Prepare for your dance audition by being as physically fit as you can. You will be taught steps or a combination on the day and we will note your speed at learning them and your ability to perform them, which are more important indicators than technical skill at this time. You would find it useful to attend dance classes and take regular physical exercise that favours co-ordination and alignment before the audition, if you are not already doing so.

As well as an existing degree or professional experience equivalence, not necessarily in a related area, we are inviting prospective students to demonstrate expertise in a minimum of three of the following skills:

  • singing;
  • acting;
  • composition;
  • writing for stage;
  • choreography;
  • movement and dance;
  • instrumental performance.

If you have composed, choreographed, written stage text or play an instrument, please bring evidence.

Please bring clothes to move freely in or a change of clothes if you require. We ask you to keep the day free as this will be a full day audition with a lunch break in between the morning and afternoon session.

International Auditions

Each year Central hosts a number of auditions outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central travelling 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.

Professional Focus

The core teaching team reflects diverse performing and creative practice 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.

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.

Staff on the Course

View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to find out more about them.

The core teaching team also includes:

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

Prof. Paul Barker, PhD, MMus, GGSM

Course Leader, MA Music Theatre

Julian Kelly, GMusRNCM, FRCO, FHEA, FRSA, PPRNCM

Lecturer and Music Director, MA Music Theatre

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 – The Carole King Musical, Exposure: The Musical, Aladdin, Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables, Made In Dagenham.

UK

Kiss Me Kate (Opera North and Welsh National 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 You Can See Forever (Union Theatre); Little Shop Of Horrors (tour); Blood Brothers (tour), Parade (Manchester); Dirty Dancing (tour); Singin’ In The Rain (tour); Calamity Jane (tour).

Film

Skyfall; The White King; Perfect Hunch Of An Agoraphobe; Everyone Knows.

Television

Casualty, Cuffs, One Child, (BBC); Hollyoaks, The Future Wags of Great Britain (Channel 4); The Girl’s Guide To Depravity (Cinemax, US).

Video games

Evie Frye in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

Theatre

The Oresteia, Measure For Measure, 946: The Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips (Shakespeare’s Globe); Caroline Or Change, The Amen Corner, A Pacifist’s Guide To The War On Cancer (National Theatre); Feast, Been So Long (Young Vic Theatre); Porgy And Bess (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); Posh (Duke of York’s Theatre).

Notable Graduates

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)

Our Current Students

Class of 2017

Recent Visiting Professionals

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

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