Becoming a Triple Threat: Musical Theater Majors

Amaya White ‘22, Montclair State University

I’m a BFA musical theater major at Montclair State University. A musical theater major works on developing their skills to become a triple threat: a singer, dancer, and an actor. Many people describe it as a double major because of the workload. You also receive knowledge on becoming a better musician, dancer, and a performer in general.

Deciding on musical theater

I’ve always enjoyed performing, whether it was in my church choir, reading in class, or in a musical. I love the rush of excitement I get when I can show off my talents and make other people feel better or learn something new. The fact that I can go to college and take classes that help me develop my craft was very intriguing. 

Favorite project

My favorite project that I worked on for my major was my final presentation for my first semester acting class freshman year. I really enjoyed it because we had been developing this scene for the entire semester. Seeing how the different techniques we learned came into play was really exciting. It’s nice to know and feel growth within yourself. 

Friends in my major

As a musical theater major most of your classes are with the same people, aside from general education courses like writing. My class is very supportive and tight knit group of people. My friend Vanessa says one of the highlights of our major is “getting to do what I love to do with other people who have the same goals and aspirations.” It’s inspiring to see your classmates thrive and to work with other people who are just as eager as you. 

Career paths

Musical theater students learn many practical skills in addition to their required vocal, acting, and dance courses. For example, in order to be a performer one must be able to engage with people and do public speaking. People within this major can become directors, teachers, choreographers, or musicians.  

I intend to continue performing wherever I can, whether that’s on Broadway, on TV, on a Netflix series, or in a film. Hopefully, I will originate a role on Broadway as well as do a tour or cruise line. I love traveling and having the opportunity to use my talents in various places while getting paid is a dream of mine.

Common misconceptions

I believe getting a degree in musical theater is very beneficial because you can fail in a safe space before going into the real world. Auditions for tours, films, etc. are very high stakes. There have been times when I have completely fallen on my face, but I’ve learned from those experiences. I have to have a tough skin and get back up and try again. Often in the theater industry you will get many people telling you “no,” so it’s important to learn to take that with a grain of salt and keep striving toward your dreams.

My school also brings in various actors, directors, and choreographers from New York City that we can work with and receive feedback from. This is really important in this industry because you can network and create some great connections to find work right after graduating. It’s also helped me learn how to work with people who have different approaches to acting. 

Tips for future majors

If you’re intending to go to school for musical theater, congratulations! You are very brave. I would do as much research as possible on different schools and which degrees you can obtain, including a BA (Bachelor of Arts), BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), or BM (Bachelor of Music). You should also figure out what kind of training you prefer: college (which focuses on teaching you skills), and conservatory (which focuses on connecting you with jobs). Also, when things become difficult, just believe in your craft and your abilities. People want to see you to succeed, they don’t want to say no to you.