Webster University and The Muny have expanded their partnership by developing a new program for high school students focused on musical theatre, set to begin next summer. The program will give 10 rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to participate in workshops and master classes, and perform in a Muny production over the course of three weeks.
During the first half of the program, the selected students will work alongside the Muny Teens, who are a group of young performers selected each year to sing in the chorus for Muny productions. They will observe and rehearse with professionals and attend master classes. During the second half, students will take classes at Webster during the day and perform in the Muny production at night while living in the Webster dorms.
Megan Larche Dominick, the casting director for The Muny and one of the creators of the program, said the opportunity for the selected kids is unlike any other.
“To experience what it’s like to rehearse, develop and perform for 10,000 people per night; most 17-year-olds don’t get a chance to do this,” Larche Dominick said.
She said although many other colleges offer programs in which students get the chance to perform, and take master classes with professionals, none of them combine with the college experience.
Larche Dominick and Mike Isaacson, the executive producer at The Muny, saw this as an opportunity to expand their relationship with Webster, which already brings a number of students from the Conservatory to the Muny stage each season, and as a way to incorporate The Muny Teens in more classes.
Peter Sargent, dean of the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, helped coordinate the program from Webster’s end with help from Dottie Englis, chair of the Conservatory of Fine Arts.
“There are all sorts of levels of students involved with The Muny year round with intern positions, auditions and students getting casted in their productions,” Sargent said.
For Sargent and Englis, a program like this can help with recruitment and will give the Conservatory a chance to mentor the young actors. Larche Dominick hopes the program gives the students guidance on selecting colleges and training to audition for theater pieces.
“I think (young performers) sometimes get a little swayed with dreams of moving to New York and skipping college altogether,” Larche Dominick said. “There’s a huge amount of training opportunities that are important in the artist’s journey that college enforces.”
Webster and The Muny will begin accepting auditions on Oct. 30 through Acceptd, a program Webster uses for auditions within the Conservatory. They are expecting to select applicants by early 2015. Tuition for the program will be $5,600 for the three weeks, and Muny Teens will also be able to pay to join the classes at Webster for the duration of the program.