Syllabus: Musical Theatre Scene Study Thea 530; MT Lab Thea 330

  • 2 credits
  • MWF 1:30 – 2:20 DFAC C9 Team-taught
  • Marie King x6373
  • Linda Starkey x3462
  • Amy Baker Schwiethale x3056
  • JuleAnn Troutman (studio accompanist)

The class has the following goals:

  • To enhance learning through practical application of interdisciplinary (i.e. singing, dancing and acting) techniques;
  • To instill self-reliance, discipline, collaboration, professional conduct and responsibility;
  • To provide student actors, directors and choreographers the opportunity to refine performance skills in musical scenes incorporating song and dance;
  • To develop and refine the unique artistic expression of each student.
  • To cultivate and entrepreneurial mindset in artist and performers


Classes are scheduled three days weekly during spring semester. Students perform scenes using minimal props (a chair, a table a stool, etc.) and suggested costumes. Students are responsible for collecting their own props and costumes.

Prerequisites and Accreditation

· Freshmen and sophomores enroll in Thea 330; Juniors and Seniors in Thea 530.

· Students enrolled in these courses must have basic technical proficiency in singing, dancing and acting. Freshmen and non-majors must have faculty permission to enroll.

· Musical Theatre Lab and Musical Theatre Scene Study are 2 credit hour courses.


  • Students must be in attendance and on time. Two absences will result in a lowering of the grade by one letter. 4 absences will result in failure or incomplete.
  • Professional conduct towards one’s colleagues and respect for the artistic process.
  • Students are expected to spend time outside of class memorizing, coaching, rehearsing and researching assigned material.
  • Written analyses, historical and/or cultural research and text analysis are required and must be turned in for each scene studied. Students may not perform scene until written analysis is complete.
  • Written assignments that foster an entrepreneurial mindset are required. These range from recognizing opportunity and analyzing risk and reward in performing arts as well as how to craft a student’s talent into a valuable commodity for a particular market are required.


Material may be selected by the student or assigned by faculty.

  • Three or four (2-3) character scenes from different decades. Depends on class schedule.
  • Scenes must have dialogue and music.
  • At least one scene must have a dance break.
  • Pick 2 from either: 1920's/30's (Gershwin, Kern, etc.); 40's/50's Rodgers, Porter, etc.) ; 60's/70's (Lowe, Loesser, etc.); 80's/90's Finn, Sondheim, etc.); pick 1 contemporary (since 2000).
  • One Text Analysis and one Character Analysis for each scene
  • A Journal documenting your method of approach and process as a performer and its evolution over the course of the semester. Writing will occur at the beginning or the semester, after each scene, and at the end of the semester.
  • Three Modules pertaining to the Business of Show Business and the Entrepreneurial Mindset

In-Class Rehearsals

Rehearsals are for refining material prepared in advance. Students should not regard them as time for learning music or memorization. In any professional situation, such basic preparation is considered homework, and is the performers’ responsibility. Meet your scene partner in the practice rooms or elsewhere to learn your music and lines.

· There is no textbook for this course.

· Students may request faculty guidance, but are responsible for locating material they wish to work on.




  • There are no formal written examinations for this course.
  • Research/Written Work consists of text analysis, character analysis, journals, and the Business of Show Business formal writing.
  • The qualities of the mid-term and final scenes, as well as the professional comportment and collegiality of the performer, are the determining factors. Students will be graded based on:

GRADING is based on the following criteria:

Attendance Policy: Attendance is Mandatory. Effort BEYOND attendance determines each student’s grade. If students want to be taken seriously by the faculty and their peers must attend class and work hard.

Students are allowed 2 unexcused absences. Each additional absence lowers the attendance grade by 20 points. Due to the collaborative nature of this class after 4 absences the student receives a failing grade. Also, it is the students’ responsibility to make up what he/she missed while gone.

Late Policy: Class starts promptly at 1:30. At 1:35 students are considered late. At 1:45 students are considered absent. 3 “Lates” equal an absence. If a student has a conflict with another class please discuss this with the instructors, as it will affect your grade.

(Also note that the two unexcused absences count toward the overall 4 that will give the student a failing grade.)

Sick/Injured Policy: Students who present a Doctor’s note when sick or injured will receive an excused absence. Students will receive 75% attendance credit (15 points) if sick or injured as long as they attend class and participate in a progressive manner.

DO NOT use your cell phone while observing or attending class. If you do, you will be asked to leave and receive NO points for class that day.

Footwear/Attire: Depending on the nature of the material students must have proper attire and foot wear to participate in class. No flip-flops allowed. Students should not wear clothes that hinder their ability to explore movement in a scene. Such as tight pants, short skirts, etc. Students are allotted one excuse for “not being properly prepared to work.” The second time students will be considered “late.” Keep in mind the floor surface of Room 143 is very slick.

The Business of Show Business.

The following three modules are designed to aid students in discovering a realistic and plausible view of how their unique talents can be presented as a valuable commodity in the Performing Arts market.

Module One: Embracing the Entrepreneurial Mindset within Your Craft

Learning Objective: This module will cause students to begin thinking proactively instead of reactively about their careers, specifically meaning they do not have to WAIT to be cast in a show to find ways to make money doing what they love.

Recognizing Opportunity: Answer the following question. “I wish there were more of _________ on a daily basis in my life as an artist/musical theatre performer.”

After filling in the blank, the student should brainstorm about how to go about integrating this idea into a tangible concept to be further explored. How could this concept be shared with like-minded people? Why are these people your target audience? What is the risk involved with this idea? What is the reward? Does the reward outweigh the risk?


10 points for filling in the blank.

20 points for creating a viable concept.

20 points for creating a viable idea for marketing this concept.

10 points for determining why your target audience is your target audience.

20 points for identifying the risks involved

20 points for weighing risk verses reward

100 Total points

Module Two: The Performer as a Commodity

Learning Objective: This module will help students understand what they have to offer the performing arts world that is truly unique. It is crucial in today’s musical theater market to not only be a triple threat but to know how to sell yourself as a valued commodity. Talent IS a valuable commodity!

Recognizing Opportunity within your own skill set:

1. Step back and analyze what you have to offer to a director that no one else can. How do you harness that quality, present it in some fashion, and capitalize on it in your daily audition life? (40 points)

2. How does your attire and hairstyle contribute to this overall presentation of you? (10 points)

3. How do your song selections contribute to this overall presentation of you? (20 points)

4. What kind of experience do you want your spectator to have during your audition? It goes beyond the director thinking you are talented. Everyone in the business is talented, how can your presentation take the director on a transformational, unforgettable experience? This is how you book a job! (30 points) (100 points total)

Grading/Assessments: Points values are determined based on specificity. Generic answers will not be tolerated and will be handed back to the students to be redone. Instructor will mentor students on how to get more specific and less general about their value as a performing artist.

Module Three: What Market is your skill set/niche best suited for?

Learning Objective: To understand what market is the best fit for the student’s skill set. Many times in musical theater New York is seen as the “end all be all place” and that may or may not coincide with the students skill set and valuable niche.

Students will research their market and decide why exactly a certain market is the best fit for them and why. This directly correlates to the information determined in Modules One and Two. Students should prepare a budget for a feasible lifestyle in this location as well.

Students will be assessed on the specificity of their reasoning behind why this location is the best fit for their skill set. (50 points)


780 points – Participation (41 class meetings with 2 being excused) (39x20 points per class)

-10 points per class for participation, effort, and professional conduct

-10 points per class for preparation of material, progress, and artistic growth

150 points - Text Analysis (50 points each)

150 points-Character Analysis (50 points each)

75 points- Informal Showings of Scene Work (25 points each)

300 points- Final Performances of Scene Work (100 points each)

50 points- Journal

250 points – “The Business of Show Business Research” Assignment, Modules 1, 2, 3.

225 points- Either a Group Number or Fourth Scene - TBD

100 points- Final


2,080 Points Total

(A) 4.0 (A-) 3.7 (B+) 3.3 (B) 3.0 (B-) 2.7 (C+) 2.3 (C) 2.0 (C-) 1.7 (D) 1.0 (F) 0.0