Musical Theatre, B.F.A.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre is designed to prepare students for success in the professional theatre industry. By combining conservatory-style training with a strong liberal arts education, our students explore, develop, and hone their craft to become well-rounded artists with valuable skill sets that will prepare them for professional success.

Plan of Study

Core Learning Goals

Our core learning goals have been woven into all aspects of this rigorous four-year program from classroom and studio work, to rehearsals and productions in our mainstage season.

  • Technique
  • Analysis
  • Professionalism
  • Collaboration

Performance Opportunities

Performance opportunities are available to students beginning in their first semester. All B.F.A. performance majors are required to audition for our mainstage season and freshmen are eligible for casting. Additional performance opportunities may include:

  • Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre, a student run theatre company
  • The Annual Children’s Show
  • Student Cabarets
  • The New Musicals Initiative
  • Faculty Developed Works

Why Choose Millikin?

There are a number of things that help set Milllikin apart from other schools:

  • Small school environment
  • First-rate faculty
  • National reputation
  • Individualized attention
  • Faculty/student mentorships and collaborations
  • Senior professional development experience (showcase)
  • Master classes with working professionals
  • Study abroad in our London Semester
  • New Musicals Initiative

Mainstage Season

Millikin’s mainstage season provides performance majors with many opportunities to gain valuable onstage experience.  A typical season will include:

  • 2 musicals
  • 2 plays
  • 1 dance concert
  • In alternating seasons an opera co-produced with the School of Music or a 3rd play

The Millikin Difference

The small school environment at Millikin University offers students many advantages including:

  • Individualized attention
  • Studio classes capped at 16
  • Annual progress evaluations
  • Faculty/student mentorships and collaborations
  • Interactions with students from other disciplines

Theatre and Dance Course Offerings

Courses change each semester, so this list should not be considered a commitment to these individual topics. However, this does represent a list of many of our current and popular courses. The list is provided so that you can begin to imagine your academic career at Millikin in this major.

Theatre Lab Theatre Lab is a co-curricular course designed to instill a desire to learn about theatre and its various forms through participation as an audience member of Pipe Dreams Studio productions or other approved live performances. (TH100)
Theatre Practicum Students participate in productions by working behind the scenes during their first three years in the program. These broad base collaborative experiences help develop a sense of volunteerism and often, a second marketable professional skill in either publicity, theatre management, properties construction, or set and costume construction. (TH101)
Acting: Non-Majors A practical acting course for non-theatre majors. Designed to introduce student to basic fundamentals of acting. May be taken for university studies fine arts credit but does not count towards theatre major. (TH103)
Introduction to Theatre Arts This class will take the form of a survey-style course whose goal is to develop students' understanding of the symbiotic nature of the theatre arts and prepare them to become lifelong patrons and participants in the theatrical experience.  Students will tap into their creative spirits and be provided the basis for critical analysis of the various segments of play production: dramatic form, playwriting, directing, acting and design.  Students will be required to attend various performances throughout the semester. (TH107)
Drawing for Theatre This is a “hands-on” course that explores drawing skills needed in the area of Theatre Design.  This includes: one, two and three point perspective, figure drawing, thumbnail techniques, line drawing, value drawing, and technical drawing techniques. (TH109)
Play Analysis Through the study of selected works, students learn techniques for analyzing play structure in a manner vital for performing artists, directors, and designers. Plays shall be selected from a variety of periods in theatrical history. The genres of tragedy and comedy and various stylistic approaches to interpreting theatrical works will be closely studied.  Pre-requisites: Theatre majors or minors only, or consent of instructor. (TH131)
Elements and Principles of Design This course is intended to introduce the student to basic design principles and explores the elements of design through a variety of abstract and conceptual projects that incorporate 2D, 3D and Kinetic design.  An emphasis on presentation and communication of ideas will be a focus of this class.  Students will also learn how to take and give verbal critique in a structured setting as well as recognizing basic design aesthetics and how they relate to theatre Design.  A major final project will allow the student to apply their developed design skills to a given research project. (TH135)
Acting I A study in basic concepts of acting developing the integration of the actor's mind and body through a variety of exercises with emphasis on professional preparation, the collaborative experience, and an introduction to analysis and technique. Majors only. (TH141)
Acting II Methods of scene analysis are explored to give the actor various tools for approaching a play. Approaches to analyzing the spine of the play, beats, major actions, intentions and characterizations will be investigated. Emphasis will be placed upon both analysis of the scene and practical realization of the work through the application of technique. Pre-requisites: Theatre 131 and 141, or consent of instructor. (TH142)
Fundamentals of Stage Lighting This course is designed to introduce the student to the USITT national standards in stage lighting technology and design.  To gain basic knowledge and practice of typical state lighting techniques in both technical and artistic projects.  The student will develop “hands on” skills in the area of sate electrics using industry standards and with an emphasis on industry wide safety standards for stage electricians.  This course requires physical, metal and artistic participation.  Majors only or instructor permission. (TH151)
Scenic Construction This course serves as an introduction to theatrical scenery construction.  Through class lectures and ‘hands-on’ participation, it is designed to give the student a detailed overview of the theories, practices and techniques involved in safely building, rigging, installing, operating, and striking theatrical scenery.  Majors only. Lab Fee. (TH154)
Theatre Practicum Students participate in productions by working behind the scenes during their first three years in the program. These broad base collaborative experiences help develop a sense of volunteerism and often, a second marketable professional skill in either publicity, theatre management, properties construction, or set and costume construction. (TH201)
Children's Theatre An introductory course in performance and theory of Children's Theatre. A practical study of production methods for children's plays. (TH202)
Sound for Theatre This course serves an introduction to sound design, technical sound, and sound reinforcement for theatre.  Through class lectures and hand-on participation, it is designed to give the student a detailed overview of the theories, practices and techniques involved in designing and editing music, sound, and sound systems for theatrical performance and in implementing those deigns technically. Lab Fee. (TH220)
Rendering Techniques This course introduces students to the use of artistic materials as they are typically used for the production of quality renderings for theatrical production.  Students will learn to use materials such as watercolor, gouache, co9lored pencil and design markers.  The successful student will produce materials worthy of inclusion in the design portfolio. (TH221)
Voice for the Stage The fundamentals of vocal technique for the actor.  Special emphasis is given to the anatomy and physiology of the vocal mechanism, including breathing, phonation, resonance and articulation.  Students learn portions of the International Phonetic Alphabet as a tool for phonetic analysis, the practice of Standard North American speech, and subsequent dialect analysis and practice. (TH240)
Advanced Voice Further development of the fundamentals of vocal technique.  Special emphasis is given to enhancement of vocal power, range, clarity, flexibility, and responsiveness to text.  Technique issues are addressed through warm-up approaches and work on heightened text, including Shakespeare.  Work with text also includes methods of verse scansion and rhetorical analysis.  Pre-requisite: TH240. (TH241)
Drafting for Theatre This is a “hands-on” course that examines the graphical communication of technical theatre design through both manual and CADD (computer-aided design) methods.  Students will develop drafting skills through a series of projects, and learn US ITT Standards for Drafting. (TH251)
Stagecraft An introduction to shop technology designed to give the student a detailed overview of the theories, practices and techniques involved in technical theatre. Through class lectures and hands-on participation, students establish a basic proficiency with the standard tools, materials, methods, and procedures used to prepare a show technically.  Topics include, but are not limited to scenery and costume construction, painting, properties, stage lighting, and drafting. Shop work on university productions required to reinforce skills learned and to promote collaborative effort. Majors only. Lab fee. (TH253)
History of Style: Antique - Modern An exploration of periodicity through examination of stylistic elements from Egyptian through current day. Styles of art, architecture, dance, theatre, music, etc. will be examined in an effort to give students a strong sense of the commonalties as well as the differences in the various art of the periods. Trends in  philosophy, religion, commerce, etc. will be studied for their effect upon artistic form. (TH255)
Theatre Practicum Students participate in productions by working behind the scenes during their first three years in the program. These broad base collaborative experiences help develop a sense of volunteerism and often, a second marketable professional skill in either publicity, theatre management, properties construction, or set and costume construction. (TH301)
Advanced Make-up A continuation of Theatre 242, Theatrical Make-up, in which the student concentrates on the design and application of make-up for various characters in realistic and stylized plays. This course exposes students to 3 dimensional technology used in the field of make-up including alginate casting and the creation and application of prosthetic make-up pieces. Pre-requisite: Theatre 242. Lab fee. (TH302)
Directing I An introduction to the theory and techniques of stage directing, this course emphasizes script analysis, collaboration, executing blocking and staging techniques, understanding aesthetics and clarity. Each student will direct a production of a ten-minute play for the class.  Prerequisite:  TH 131 or consent of instructor. (TH321)
Directing II A continuation of Directing I, this course also includes analysis of contemporary directorial theories. Professional techniques are thoroughly examined, plays? meanings and values from contemporary perspectives are evaluated as students analyze theories to help them develop their own personal style and technique. Prerequisite: TH 131 and 321 or consent of instructor. (TH322)
Arts Management An introduction to the world of arts management in the US. The course will cover staffing, budgeting, fundraising, and long term planning among other topics for mission driven organizations. (TH323)
Stage Management An introduction to the role of the stage manager in the American Theatre today. This course covers Actors' Equity Association contracts, the stage managers role in the production process, communication techniques, leadership skills, and the creation of a prompt script. (TH324)
Playwriting The writing of plays. Emphasis placed on plot, theme, dialogue, technical problems and characterization. Pre-requisite: Theatre 131 or consent of instructor. (TH325)
Seminar in Dramatic Literature An investigation into the work of a major playwright or playwrights or into dramatic literature of a given style period. Courses offered on occasion include Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, contemporary drama and dramatic concepts. Repeatable for credits each time topic changes. Pre-requisite: Theatre 131 or consent of instructor. (TH333)
Seminar in Dramatic Literature An investigation into the work of a major playwright or playwrights or into dramatic literature of a given style period. Courses offered on occasion include Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, contemporary drama and dramatic concepts. Repeatable for credits each time topic changes. Pre-requisite: Theatre 131 or consent of instructor. (TH334)
Musical Theatre History and Lit I The study of the American musical from European influences until 1940 with emphasis on analysis of formative elements in preparation for work in the professional environment. Majors only. A linked course requiring concurrent enrollment in Theatre 339. (TH337)
Musical Theatre History and Lit II A collaborative exploration of the development and trends of the American musical from 1940 to the present with emphasis on analysis of different decades and styles. Majors only. A linked course requiring concurrent enrollment in TH340.. (TH338)
Acting: Styles An advanced studio course, this class investigates the origins of style that influence analysis and the technical work of actors in uniting form and content.  An in-depth treatment of characterization and interpretation with special emphasis on language will be the focus using Shakespeare's plays.  This course works on the actor's technique and analysis.  Pre-requisites: Theatre 141 and 142, or consent of instructor. (TH341)
Ensemble: Theory and Practice The examination and exploration of techniques for achieving an ensemble approach to acting. Students will work in a variety of situations that involve the individual in the ensemble creative process. Pre-requisites: Theatre 141 and 142, or consent of instructor. (TH342)
Acting: Mask Characterization Advanced acting course in study of mask characterization, providing theory behind process and step-by-step procedure\ in development of character from the mask. Pre-requisites: Theatre 141 and 142,  or consent of instructor. (TH343)
Acting: Improvisation Focuses on improvisation as a creative technique and performance style. Trains the actor to work in an extemporaneous manner. Students work in a variety of situations that apply improvisational techniques to theatre pieces. Pre-requisites: Theatre 142 or consent of instructor. (TH344)
Acting: Advanced Scene Study Designed as a continuation of the work started in Acting I and II, this course is designed to further the understanding of the actor's craft and to apply analysis and technique to scene performances with emphasis on works of contemporary realism.  We will concentrate on developing techniques of internal and external character development; discovering and communicating explicit and implicit given circumstances; identifying and communicating subtext; and creating and sustaining internal/emotional involvement.  The main objective is to deepen your ability to live truthfully within a compelling set of imaginary circumstances.  Pre-requisite: Theatre 142, or consent of instructor. (TH345)
Advanced Scene Study II Students will build upon their technical foundation while focusing upon works of classic psychological Realism.  Particular attention will be paid to the actors' ability to connect technique with instinct, and to transform vocal and physical work into specific, playable action. (TH346)
Auditions A study of a variety of audition techniques including cold readings, memorized monologues, improvisation and interviews. Pre-requisites: Theatre 131, 141, 142. (TH349)
Advanced Acting Styles Study of different acting styles for significant plays of the modern and classical theatre. Pre-requisites: Theatre 131, 141 and 345, or consent of instructor. (TH350)
Costume Design for Theatre A concentration on the conceptualization and rendering of costume design for the stage is the content of this course.  Students will be required to execute projects based on script analysis, research, and an understanding of design theory.  The course of study addresses character and figure analysis, designer/director communication, shop practices, and the effective use of standard design elements and principles. (TH351)
Costume History This course focuses on the evolution of clothing throughout history.  The exploration of costume includes not only “what” people wore, but “why” people wore what they did.  War, economy, trends, and other pressures greatly influence what is considered to be fashionable, as well as what is considered to be the norm of a period.  The context is especially important for those hoping to be costume designers for theatre and film, but is also helpful for directors, actors, dramaturges, and others interested in fashion. (TH354)
Special Topics in Costume This special topics designation allows for courses which advance student knowledge in the area of costume.  Topics could include Pattern Drafting and Draping, Dye Techniques, Millinery, Tailoring, 3D Makeup Techniques, etc. (TH356)
Special Topics: Stage Lighting This course is designed to explore advanced concepts in the art of lighting design for the performing arts.  Through practical experiments and lab projects this course will explore: Color theory in design and the psychology of color, the use of lighting design and conceptual communication and explore the possibilities of how lighting design can manipulate the audience’s view of the performance.  Major only; TH 135, 151, 251, and 352. (TH358)
Stage Dialects Application of techniques developed in the Voice sequence which enable the actor to speak in various regional dialects in performance contexts.  Special emphasis is given to the use pf IPA as a tool in phonetic analysis.  Pre-requisite:  TH241. (TH362)
Advanced Movement for Actors Course will explore advanced movement techniques that continue to emphasize the full integration of the body, mind, and emotions while expanding the range of movement choices, from active stillness through realistic characters to broad physical comedy. Masks (neutral, character, and red nose) are used as the means of exploration. Course is required of all B.F.A. acting majors in the third year. Pre-requisites: Theatre 146, 345 or consent of instructor. (TH364)
Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre Students enrolled in TH 390 are the Artistic and Production Teams of the Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre, Millikin's student-run theatre company.  Teams meet weekly to establish goals, set timelines, and execute plans in addition to presenting a monthly report to Pipe Dreams' Board.  Emphasis will be placed on concept and business development, programming, and marketing/branding. (TH390)
Acting: Musical Stage I This senior capstone course for B.F.A. musical theater majors is a performance practice class for education and improvement of skills for the musical theatre. Practical analysis and technique in combining the disciplines of acting, singing, and movement for the musical theatre is the central focus with in-depth exploration of how these elements define and effect character and dramatic choices.  Professionalism in manner and preparation are also important foci of the class. Pre-requisites: junior musical theatre major and completion of Theatre 345, or consent of instructor. (TH446)
Acting: Musical Stage II This senior capstone course works on the development of audition technique for the actor entering the professional market of musical theatre.  Students learn methods for analyzing music and lyrics of audition material, staging an effective audition, and applying fundamental acting techniques that bring immediacy and power to the audition.  Students also develop and practice the professional etiquette of the business and deepen their understanding of how they fit into the professional market they enter.  Pre-requisites: junior musical theatre major and completion of Theatre 345, or consent of instructor. (TH447)
Performance Problems This capstone course is required for all acting majors in their senior year. It requires intensive, in-depth work for the entire semester to integrate voice, mind, and body into an individualized acting approach.  Integration of all aspects of the actor's craft and artistry are emphasized.  Students also develop and practice the professional etiquette of the business and deepen their understanding of how they fit into the professional market they enter.   Pre-requisite: TH345, senior standing. (TH448)
Theatre Props This course will introduce the student to the basic skills and techniques needed to become a successful Props Master. The student will apply techniques of play analysis to the design, construction, and acquisition of properties for theatrical production. (TH451)
Scenic Painting for Theatre This is a “hands-on” class in the art of painting scenery for the theatre.  Students will work on the various techniques of texturing: spattering, sponging, dry brushing, etc. and use those techniques to create faux wood, bricks, stone, marble, etc.   Other areas to be covered include History of Scenic Art, creation and interpretation of Pain Elevations. (TH452)
Design Studio: Costume Hist. A series of topics will be taught on a rotating basis including work in drafting, rendering, scene design, costume construction, lighting design and other disciplines. Practical design or technical projects may be assigned. Majors only. Variable lab fees. (TH454)
Design and Production Cornerstone Projection The Cornerstone Project is the student’s opportunity to begin to synthesize coursework into a near profession experience.  The project can be a paper project or a realized design.  Usually smaller in scale than the Capstone Project, the project gives the student a chance to explore the realized design process: working with a director and design team, the realities of budgets and guild schedules, perseverance to finish a long term project and ways to motivate a production crew.  The faculty will determine the project based on the students’ abilities, experiences and needs. (TH491)
Senior Directing Project A capstone directing project which is an elective for all students. Pre-requisites: Theatre or musical theatre major and consent of instructor. (TH497)