Here at OnStage Blog, we spend months compiling, researching and comparing college theatre programs to come up with what we feel are the very best colleges in the country. While names like Tisch, Juilliard, Emerson and Baldwin Wallace get plenty of attention, there are a ton of schools out there with incredible programs that deserve more.
So we wanted to highlight some of these underrated programs. Whether they are programs that have amazing facilities and curriculum or have a ton of value when it comes to their cost, these are schools that are doing tremendous things in theatre that might not be known on a national level.
Remember, we're talking about schools we feel are underrated. If you don't see certain programs here, it's more than likely that they're already getting a ton of credit.
Because this list is so massive, we're going to break it down region by region using this map.
Fast Fact: PSU was the first school in the country to create an Online Senior Showcase. Each graduating senior is highlighted in their own video, with a digital portfolio of some of their accomplishments. Facilities include the 680-seat Hanaway Theatre.
9. Johnson State College - Johnson, VT
Fast Fact: One of the rare schools in the country to offer a concentration in sound engineering. The program gives student musicians the chance to study, in-depth, “the science of sound.” They'll get experience using state-of-the-art equipment in Dibden Center for the Arts, JSC’s digital recording studio and the college’s music technology lab. They will also complete their studies with a senior internship or capstone experience.
8. Sacred Heart University - Fairfield, CT
Fast Fact: TheatreFest is an annual Sacred Heart University event that allows students to explore their creativity within various roles in the theatre. Student written one-act plays or musicals are developed through initial feedback given from program faculty and peers. After rewriting, selected shows chose a student director, stage manager and actors to perform their show. After another round of performances and rewrites, remaining shows are given a chance to be fully produced with a full set, costumes, lights, sound and technical crew. These stages are integral to the creative process and to students understanding all of the elements into creating a full production.
7. Salem State University - Salem, MA
Fast Fact: Salem State University is the only four-year public university in New England accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST). They produce four Mainstage productions and two staged readings a year, utilizing a four-year rotating cycle of theatre genres for their play selections, ensuring that their students receive a comprehensive exposure to both classic and contemporary theatre styles.
6. Amherst College - Amherst, MA
Fast Fact: Outstanding faculty include Suzanne Palmer Dougan, who has designed sets or costumes for over 50 productions, working with such well known directors/actors as Paul Newman, Alvin Epstein and Tony Award winner Mark Lamos. She has worked as a designer for theater, opera, dance, and museums. Working with Humana Festival award-winning director Vinnie Murphy, she designed costumes for a series of experimental productions including Shakespeare’s King Lear and Chekov’s Uncle Vanya. She has designed the American premiers of the Hartford Stage production of Marivaux’s False Admissions and Edward Bond’s musical Restoration.
5. Colby College- Waterville, ME
Fast Fact: A Theater and Dance Interdisciplinary Computation major was added in 2010, which is a stage design-based program focusing on the relationship between computation and performance scenography and the multiple applications of software technologies to stage design.
4. Salve Regina University - Newport, RI
Fast Fact: For students interested in writing, directing or producing their own work, Salve Regina's theater club StageFright is the place to do it all. The student-run club offers workshops and classes on specialties like stage combat or Viewpoints and plans field trips to professional and university theaters in the area. StageFright produces at least one show per year in the 70-seat black-box theater on campus. Past shows have included "Lend Me a Tenor," "The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)" and "The Interview." Each year students tailor the productions to the interests of the club membership and complement what is happening on the main stage.
3. Middlebury College - Middlebury, VT
Fast Fact: Their affiliation with a professional theatre company, the Potomac Theatre Project, affords opportunities to act, stage manage, and work in production and administration during the summers in New York City. Guest artists for short and long-term residencies have recently included actors from the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and visiting directors from New York City, London, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
2. College of the Holy Cross - Worcester, MA
Fast Fact: The only fully student-run theater group on campus, Alternate College Theatre offers the opportunity to direct, star in a show, design, work on a stage crew, manage publicity, or get involved with any other aspect of theatrical production. ACT hosts a season kick-off barbecue in September and produces both a straight play in the fall and a musical in the spring under the auspices of the Department of Theatre. Spring events include Midnight Theatre and Cabaret Night. Election of officers, play selection, and direction and design assignments for the upcoming year are also made in the spring semester.
1. Western Connecticut State University - Danbury, CT
Fast Fact: WCSU produces large scale musicals, Shakespeare, and other classic dramas and comedies in their 350-seat MainStage Theatre. They produce smaller shows including student-generated works in the Studio Theatre, our black box space. They also produce an annual show in New York City and a biennial show abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. They also have arguably the finest facilities in New England. This stunning new facility is home to a 350-seat theater, a 125-seat studio theatre, a 350-seat concert hall, an art gallery, a recording studio and state-of-the-art rehearsal, classroom and studio art facilities.