The Shedd Institute’s Musical Theatre Training Academy was established to help high school performers committed to going on in the theatre to further develop and hone their existing training in the core musical theatre skill areas as well as delve into many of the other skill and knowledge areas needed for success in the profession, including auditioning, diction and dialects, period acting, musical theatre history, and general professionalism. The Academy emphasizes professional training, not an end-of-camp performance, offering dedicated youth an opportunity to gain insight into the life of a professional musical theatre artist and build their skills in acting, voice, and dance under the guidance of working professionals.
Theatre professionals recognize the attributes of serious performers—those who have mastered the basics of their craft, and gone on to hone their acting, voice, and dance skills in equal measure. Academy participants receive intensive professional instruction in the three essential aspects of musical theatre performance through daily core sessions and specialized workshops. With no worries about an upcoming performance, students can focus on truly improving their craft.
Musical Theatre Acting (9:30 - 10:45 am)
Designed as an “actor bag of tricks” for the developing performer, this daily session will cover fundamental acting techniques utilized in the professional world of theatre from stage presence and actor engagement to physicality and character development. Whether shining in the spotlight or filling in the chorus, acting requires a specific level of consciousness and a certain degree of engagement (both contextually and physically) that each call for a precise spectrum of skills. This class will provide aspiring actors with the tools they need to excel in musical theatre and the confidence to perform in front of any audience. Bill Hulings, instructor
Musical Theatre Dance (11:00 - 12:15 pm)
In musical theatre, a dance can connect scenes to characters, and is often one of the most important means of advancing the show and entertaining its audience. In addition to learning choreography, solo, and ensemble work, a musical theatre actor must learn how to perform the dance. In this session, students will receive training in musical theatre dance choreography and technique, and learn the isolated movements that professional dancers use to heighten a stage performance. By focusing on character-driven dances and choreography that establish a relationship and storyline, students will emerge from this session with a set of dance skills that make them a true “triple threat!” Laura Hiszczynskyj, instructor
Musical Theatre Voice (12:45 - 2:00 pm)
One of the most important skills that musical theatre performers must develop is their voice. Beyond simply being able to sing in tune or keep a rhythm, singers must convince an audience that their songs are not just “performance” but rather, extensions of story, tone, and character. In this session, students will be coached in the art of refining their voices for musical theatre. Students will select and prepare a song from a musical theatre show. Over the course of the two weeks, they will receive focused training to develop their singing skills and perfect their technique on the chosen piece. This training will help students better perform stage numbers and prepare repertoire for any musical theatre audition—fundamental skills for musical theatre success! Shirley Andress, instructor
How to Audition
Usually regarded as nerve-racking, an audition is one of the most important steps to making it as an actor in the professional world. This workshop will focus on the elements that can make or break an audition--poise, presentation, professionalism, and strength of delivery. Students will be asked to memorize a 1-2 minute monologue for use in the workshop, as well as bring sheet music for the same Broadway song they will prepare for their musical theatre vocal sessions.
Working With An Accompanist
When you audition, you are a probably meeting your accompanist for the first time. In this workshop, you will learn how to quickly connect with the pianist to make for the best showcase of your talent, how to prepare your music for anyone to easily read it, and how to create a solid performance team. (Robert Ashens, instructor)
Owning The Role
Bill Hulings will lead you through a four session exploration of the concepts and techniques of a physical approach to acting. Inspired by the work of Jerzy Gratowski, students will explore the connection between imagination, emotion, and movement using isolations, yoga, and tumbling. Students are expected to have at least one song, and some text -- poem, speech, or monologue—memorized before the workshop begins in order to work on both presentation and audition skills. (Bill Hulings, instructor)
The Voice on Stage
Though we all use our voices as a means of communication and expression, the voice of a performing artist is an instrument that requires specific care and use: voice brightness and darkness, volume and projection, transitions between speech and song will be among the key techniques and practices covered. (Robert Ashens, instructor)
From technique and tonal quality to vocal line and legato, there are many components that make up a performance-worthy song. Using the same music from core classes and workshops, students will fine-tune their solo songs. (Evynne Hollens, instructor)
Diction and Dialects
Besides the essentials of acting, singing, and dancing, the value of clear, crisp, and strong speech on stage is an absolutely fundamental element of performance. Focusing on projection, enunciation, articulation, and some of the most common dialects used in the American theatre, this class will provide the necessary steps towards speaking well in performance. (Wade Hicks, instructor)
Musical Theatre Dance
Incorporate the elements of a jazz/ballet/modern warm up with a style section that will carry us across-the-floor, and a musical theater combination that will incorporate everything into a piece of choreography. This will be an “open” level, so everyone can participate, and be challenged! We will stretch, do ballet basics, work abs and push-ups on the floor, and do a couple of theatre warm ups to get everyone loosened up. We will then work the style steps, utilize those steps in the musical theatre material, and understand the “dance call” process for auditions. (Richard Jessup, instructor)
A limited number of Ed Ragozzino Merit Scholarships of up to $300 each are available to applicants through the generosity of Shedd Institute donors in honor of Eugene musical theatre legend Ed Ragozzino (1931-2010). To apply for a Ragozzino Scholarship, request an application form and submit with any two of the three following work samples: (1) a 16-bar excerpt from a standard song from the musical theatre repertoire (preferably pre-Sondheim), with piano accompaniment; (2) a monologue (3 minutes or less) from a published play of your choice; (3) a 1 to 2 minute sample of movement or dance representative of skill level. Submit samples on VHS tape, DVD, or on-line (YouTube, etc.) Submit the scholarship application form along with your Academy registration form. Each submission will be evaluated within one week of receipt and applicants will be notified of award status immediately.