Musical Theatre has its beginnings in America with the spread of Vaudeville, Burlesque, and street performers, which made its way over from Europe's compilation of jesters, optical illusionists, and wandering minstrells in the early 12th and 13th centuries. We have come a long way since then, and with the institution of Broadway and Hollywood bringing in their own following, there is no doubt that Musical Theatre is a truly influential art form within our society.
In 1986, the Theatre program was transferred from Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to the College of Fine Arts to round out the college’s arts offerings. Within Fine Arts, Theatre and Dance were combined to create the School of Performing Arts, with each discipline offering its own Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. A decade later, through cooperation between the schools of Performing Arts and Music, the option to study Musical Theatre was incorporated within the Bachelor of Fine Arts. Leroy Clark led the school through this decade of rapid growth and change. When Bela Kiralyfalvi became chair, he served as an advocate for students and faculty, and the school’s programs flourished. The Dance and Musical Theatre programs achieved national accreditation, something which the School strives to carry through in all of its endeavors, now more than 85 years after its bare beginnings.
Students in the Wichita State University School of Performing Arts enjoy concentrated classes in voice, vocal coaching, acting, and of course, dance. Each class is specifically time-lined within the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree course of study so that students may gain the proficiency in each level of their education needed to proceed to the next. The program is rigorous, intense, and highly disciplined; however the classroom or studio is not the only places in which students in the Musical Theatre Program are invited to participate and learn.
Seasonal Auditions within the School of Performing Arts enable our company of performers to read, sing, and dance for various roles in our Mainstage and SecondStage musicals, plays, and dance concerts. Musical Theatre students are encouraged to explore the many facets of their craft throughout each semester. We believe that having well-rounded triple-threat performers is essential to the success of our program, which is why we value versatility and dedication to one’s personal success and networking. The greatest part of studying in our program, aside from the fact that you will grow as an artist and individual, is knowing that your professors and colleagues are there to celebrate with you every step of the way!
In addition to the many benefits of working as a student in our programs, we have alumni working in every facet of the theatre from technical design to direction and even writing plays or composing music, with companies and corporations like Disney, Royal Caribbean, KC Starlight Theatre, and The Roundabout Theatre in New York City, just to name a few! Many of our students also enjoy working for the local summer stock theatre company, Musical Theatre of Wichita, which is nationally recognized as one of the best places to work for young and/or seasoned performers. Producing director Wayne Bryan will be our guest director this fall for our production of “Carnival!" We strive to maintain such a great working relationship with business professionals in the world of Musical Theatre locally and abroad.
The Musical Theatre Program offers more than $30,000 annually in undergraduate scholarships to new and continuing students. In addition, we offer a large number of paid student assistantships, which also serve as a valuable tool in solidifying students' learning opportunities in their own career development.
With financial and professional support from donors, faculty, and your colleagues, there is no doubt that studying Musical Theatre at Wichita State University will equip you with skills, knowledge, discipline, and experiences necessary to achieve your greatest success!
Please feel free to browse through the rest of the website, taking note of our Musical Theatre Faculty, Degree Requirements, and Scholarships information. If you should like to meet with someone about attending our program, please e-mail or call the School of Performing Arts at PerformingArts@wichita.edu or 316-978-3360.