How to Showcase a College Musical Theatre Program
Colleges (and college students/alums) use a number of official and unofficial strategies to showcase their musical theatre programs.
Some strategies focus on attracting prospective students, some address donor contributions while others
work to assist the careers of their students and alums. Many strategies include an online component
in order to reach a broader audience at a low cost.
Here are a few ideas from colleges around the country. Please suggest additional strategies (or make corrections)
by sending an email to
Post professional videos of student performances
Point Park University in Pittsburgh started posting mini-documentaries on their official YouTube
channel of most/all student shows beginning fall, 2009.
They hire a professional company to create high-quality three-camera
excerpts of their shows along with interviews with cast, crew and creative team.
Point Park avoids copyright problems by only posting excerpts of performances. Our
(possibly incorrect) understanding is that
as long as only a portion of a song is used in a non-profit manner
(and each song excerpt isn't longer than 3:00),
then this is considered "fair use" under U.S. copyright law.
Here's the primary video for their fall 2009 dance work, The Bench:
View the complete set of videos at
Host an on-campus senior showcase
Many schools host showcase performances for their seniors. We're particularly impressed by the
showcases hosted by Belmont University (in Nashville, TN) and Penn State University.
Belmont University seniors are each provided with a one-hour showcase to highlight what they've learned.
Belmont provides the staging, lighting and sound system for the student performances. Most seniors enlist two to
four underclassmen to perform with them in their showcases. Belmont does not videotape these performances,
but students often do, posting them on unofficial YouTube pages.
Here's a video compilation of Deonte Warren's 2010 senior recital:
View more videos from
Belmont University or
Penn State University
Penn State hosts a single showcase concert for their seniors each year.
Most of the performances are individual, but
the showcase usually includes a few group or small-group numbers.
Performances are professionally videotaped using
three cameras and each senior receives a DVD with their performance. Penn State does not post the performances
online, but many students upload their work to YouTube.
Here's a video compilation from the Class of 2009 showcase:
Penn State showcase videos.
Host off-campus senior showcases
A few schools host their senior showcases off-campus. Carnegie-Mellon, for example, takes their senior class
to New York City and to Los Angeles to perform in front of prospective agents, producers and alums.
This year, theBestArts is working with CMU seniors to also produce a senior showcase at the Laurie Beechman
Theatre in New York City. We plan to videotape the show and post videos to an unofficial YouTube channel.
Produce independent student showcases
Students at schools that don't provide senior showcase opportunities should consider hosting their
own showcases. Ask your school to provide a facility, enlist students to manage musical direction, lighting
and choreography - and put together a great show. Take high-quality video of the show and provide copies to
Host individual student performances
Quite a few students and alums create YouTube channels that showcase the talents of individual
students. One of the most well-known channels is
UrInTown, hosted by then-student and
now alum of the
University of Michigan, Andrew Keenan-Bolger. We try to feature as many channels like this as possible,
organized by school name, on our primary College MT page.
Post campus productions
Most colleges won't tape campus productions due to copyright concerns. Some songwriters have strong
feelings about protecting their rights, while others feel that any publicity is good publicity.
Generally, videos of campus shows and concerts that are posted are done so unofficially by students.
It's always best to get permission from the songwriters/copyright holders before posting this type
Post independent productions
Students often produce independent productions, where the college only provides the facilities
(and even those may be rented.) Many shows are benefits for Broadway Cares, while events at Ohio State
and elsewhere benefit
local charities. Songwriter Andre Catrini at CCM enlists the help of fellow students to perform
showcases of his work. Bo Frazier has produced many events that showcase student talent at Millikin University.
When videos from these types of events are posted online, they become a marketing tool for the respective
college, even if not originally planned for that purpose.