Five Great Summer Pre-College Musical Theatre Programs for High School Students

For any high school student looking to major in theatre in college, attending a summer program is always a good idea. Not only does it give further opportunities to be involved in theatre, but also many times these programs are hosted at some of the best theatre colleges in the country. 

While some are longer than others, being able to experience what its like to be a theatre student at each of these institutions can be an invaluable experience for students. It can also be a key component in recruitment for these colleges as well. 

So what should you be looking for when selecting a summer college program? Well, the list isn't much different from selecting what college to look at in general. 

  • Strong curriculum
  • Excellent Facilities
  • Highly trained/educated faculty
  • Student Life
  • Affordability

So with that criteria in mind, here are 5 summer pre-college theatre programs for high school students we definitely recommend. 

Emerson College - Pre-College Studio Program

First and foremost, what impresses us the most about Emerson's pre-college programming is what the program features. 

Among other activities, students who participate in this five week program will:

  • Participate in regular dance (Jazz, Musical Theatre, Ballet, Tap), acting and song interpretation classes each week
  • Take two private voice lessons a week
  • Discover aspects of the business, including headshots, resumes and audition protocol
  • Build an initial repertoire of songs and monologues suitable for auditions
  • Prepare for classes and participate in master classes from visiting artists
  • Attend production/artistic field trips and leisure time in Boston
  • Become familiar with the dedicated protocol, faculty, expectation and standards of the BFA Musical Theatre Program at Emerson

In addition to possibly earning 4 college credits, rising seniors will have an option to audition for the BFA Musical Theatre Program at Emerson for future admittance consideration. The program concludes with a Musical Theatre Studio "open class" presentation, featuring singing, acting and dance. 

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NYU Steinhardt - NYU Summer Study in Music Theatre

The Vocal Performance Program in Music and Performing Arts Professions offers a three-week intensive workshop during which students explore the techniques of music theatre performance from the perspective of an actor, singer, and dancer.

The workshop consists of group and individual instruction. Activities include acting, song analysis and dance classes, choreography and musical staging rehearsals, private voice lessons and coachings, as well as a series of master classes on auditioning, utilizing technology, vocal function and a panel discussion with alumni artists currently working in the field.

The workshop culminates with a showcase presentation in which students perform the material they have been working on in class.

The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Pre-College Program

The six-week program enrolls more than one hundred students in the areas of Acting, Musical Theatre, Design and Production. 

Pre-College students are involved in a wide variety of classroom projects, lecture and demonstrations, and master classes. The daily schedule mirrors the School of Drama’s rigorous curriculum. At the conclusion of the program each performance student presents an audition to the faculty. The Design and Production students participate in a design portfolio presentation and interview with faculty. All students receive evaluations of their work in each course at the conclusion of the program.

Rider University - Westminster Music Theatre Workshop

This summer, students will work in a master class with a special Broadway artist. Past stars include Adam Jacobs, currently starring as Aladdin on Broadway, Russell Fischer from Jersey Boys, and Clyde Alves from On The Town. The program also includes:

  • Travel to New York City to see a Broadway musical
  • Study acting (including scene study and audition techniques)
  • Learn contemporary commercial singing techniques
  • Dance in movement classes
  • Perform in the Musical Theater Showcase Revue
  • Perform in a semi-staged version of Xanadu

Oklahoma City University - High School Musical Theater Program

The High School Musical Theater Program is an extension of the acclaimed OCU musical theater degree program. Under the direction of Dr. David Herendeen, students from across the United States and around the world participate in a demanding pre-college intensive, overcoming performance challenges through rigorous classroom training and on-stage experience. 

This intensive program is for students who are serious about pursuing a career in musical theater performance. Classes are taught by OCU faculty and staff. Master class topics include audition preparation, vocal health, music theater repertoire, monologue preparation, or voice master classes. Students get the chance to select their schedule with our "Saturday Electives," featuring such classes as tap, stage combat, yoga, and performance career preparation.

The program this summer wraps up with a full scale production of "The Pajama Game".