Randolph College has announced that it will add a minor in musical theater to its academic offering, with the program slated to open next fall.
Randolph’s Performing Arts Department is made up of the Music, Drama, and Dance Departments, which have recently consolidated. The college also owns Endstation Theater Company, which not only serves as a place of entertainment for the community and region, but also a place where students and other performers can practice and hone their theatrical careers. Endstation also frequently features musicals.
“When we think of musical theatre, we obviously think of the “triple threat”. Someone who can sing, someone who can dance, and someone who can act,” said Emily Chua, acting chair of the dance department, music teacher, and primary manager of new minor development. “It was about writing the miner in a way that balances meeting those three legs of the stool, if you will.”
The main driver for the development of this specialized minor was the widespread and ongoing interest of students, said associate professor of theater Stephanie Earl and Chua.
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“A lot of them are interested in musical theatre. Many of them take classes to boost their triple threat skills anyway, and we thought it was time to recognize those efforts and be able to allow them to put something on their transcripts that would allow them to declare their interests and hard work,” Earl said.
The new minor will not only benefit current students who wish to declare a minor in musical theater, but will also aid recruitment efforts, Earl said. The college consistently heard from many high school students considering attending Randolph expressing interest in majoring in musical theater.
“We’re just thinking about how the courses can serve more students, and also kind of focusing on the genuine interest that we’ve seen over the past few years,” Chua said. “Now is a good time to make this kind of change to the program and make this addition so that we can track where the students are and meet them with a suitable program.”
Chua wrote the proposal for the new minor and sent it to the college’s curriculum committee after department faculty voted to support the development of the program last winter. The support from the college administration, Chua said, has been great and she is grateful for it.
Musical theater degree programs aren’t new to higher education institutions, Earl said. Some larger universities offer specializations, such as a bachelor’s degree in musical theater. Randolph’s small size, however, offers the advantage of allowing performing arts students to explore other areas of interest as well, often in the liberal arts and humanities. It is not uncommon for Randolph students to have more than one major or minor.
Many core courses that will be part of the musical theater minor already exist, Earl said, but a few new courses have also been developed for the specialization, such as a course called “Dance from Stage to Screen.”
Eventually, Chua said she hopes the college can offer a major in musical theater. Until then, however, having a minor is the starting point.
“We are thrilled to be able to add something like this for students. It’s such a student-centric institution that being able to cater to student interest in this way is really satisfying, from a faculty perspective,” Chua said.