December 8, 2022 at 3:15pm
Kendall Trump, Class of 2013

Musical Theatre Major Highlights “Performance” Learning Experiences

Though she is a self-proclaimed hometown girl from Maroa, Ill., Olivia “Liv” Crabtree’s aspirations for her future career reach far beyond Central Illinois. Currently a sophomore majoring in musical theatre at Millikin University, Liv hopes to one day direct, produce and star in her own work on Broadway. 

Millikin’s College of Fine Arts proved to be the perfect avenue to continue her journey toward achieving her goals on the big stage. Liv already felt at home at Millikin, having frequently visited campus with her mother, a Millikin University alumna while she was growing up. Liv was also drawn in by having a top-ranked musical theatre program nearby, meaning she could stay at home and attend classes as a commuter student. 

Like most musical theatre students in Millikin University’s College of Fine Arts, Liv came to Millikin with a decorated background of roles and performances under her belt. This past summer, Liv starred as Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” for Mid-Summer Movement Productions out of Oreana, Ill. Her experiences in Millikin’s musical theatre program, however, have piqued her interest in all aspects of theatre.

“I really love to sing, act and perform, and I enjoy the process of getting into character, but at Millikin, I also get to experience a lot of backstage work,” Liv said.

Liv recently completed an Introduction to Technical Course that let her experience different facets of stage management, including costuming, lighting and set design. “Millikin does a really great job showing all aspects of theatre,” she commented. “A great thing to remember about musical theatre is that for every one person on stage, there are 10 or more people backstage or in executive positions who make the productions and performances happen.”

Gaining practical, hands-on experience with the non-performance aspects of musical theatre are part of what Liv believes will make her a “triple-threat actor.” The College of Fine Arts offers a wide variety of acting, voice, music and dance courses, as well as dance certificates to ensure that students become well-rounded performers before graduation. 

"Millikin’s musical theater program ensures that you become well rounded as an actor, singer, dancer and overall performer.”

Millikin’s School of Theatre and Dance sets itself apart from comparable institutions and performing arts programs with the value of Performance Learning, the University’s hallmark approach to education. “For me, Performance Learning means being able to get up on your feet, not only to perform on stage, but to try different tactics and take risks,” Liv said about the benefits of real-world, hands-on experience in her major. “I know I could crash and burn, but I know that Millikin is a safe place to crash and burn, and the only way I can go is up.”

One experience that stood out to Liv was being able to observe a belting course for her advanced scene study class.

“It was an amazing experience to watch people take so many risks within a classroom setting and shape their technique. I fell in love with it and plan to take a course on it in my senior year.”

She also commented that observing performers and lessons was a good fit for her learning style, as opposed to sitting at a desk and taking notes. 

Liv’s experience in stage management, costuming, lighting and set design, along with the opportunity to hone her passions and talents in singing and acting have been integral to helping her succeed in Millikin’s School of Theatre and Dance, and she is confident that when she graduates, she will have a full understanding of the work ahead of her.