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Musical Theatre Workshop

The Musical Theatre Workshop is a wide-ranging educational program that gives students the opportunity to work with faculty members of the renowned University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre, as well as special industry guests, on the campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The Musical Theatre Workshop enrolls approximately 40 students and is designed for rising seniors who are considering BFA degree programs in college. Consideration is also given to rising juniors of exceptional ability and experience.

Areas of emphasis within the program include:

  • Analysis of song lyrics, and the ways music informs the interpretation of the lyrics
  • Acting techniques for songs, including contemporary and traditional repertoire
  • Broadway dance styles, taught in daily dance classes
  • Contemporary trends in musical theatre in New York City
  • The vocabulary of the field
  • Voice study, including stylistic approaches for pop songs and contemporary musical theatre songs
  • Techniques for working on monologues and scenes
  • Audition skills
  • Musical theatre history

Institute Dates: July 9 – 29, 2023
Institute Tuition: $5,450

Application Status: Apply Now! 

Non-Refundable Application Fee: $75 

Email mpulse@umich.edu if a waiver code is needed for the $75 application fee due to financial need.

Priority Application Deadline: January 20, 2023*
Priority Admissions Notification: February 20, 2023

*Applications will remain open until all spots are filled in the program. Please check the application status above to see if we are still accepting applications on a rolling basis.  Rolling basis applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis following the priority application. 

Cynthia Kortman Westphal –  U-M Faculty Director
Professor of Musical Theatre

Cynthia Westphal

Cynthia Westphal

Cynthia Kortman Westphal is a professor and has been on faculty with the Department of Musical Theatre since 2004. While on sabbatical in 2018-19, she music directed the first national tour of the Tony-winning production Come From Away, and conducted over 400 performances in 30 cities across the US and Canada. Broadway credits include The Lion King, where she was an original company member, associate music director, conductor, and keyboard player for seven years, and A Christmas Story (written by Oscar- and Tony-winning UM musical theatre department graduates Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). She also conducted the first national tour of A Christmas Story and played keyboards for the show’s run at Madison Square Garden. Additional Broadway credits: Miss Saigon (keyboards) and The Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm (music supervisor, music director, conductor).

Rachel Hoffman – Guest Faculty Co-Director

Rachel Hoffman

Rachel Hoffman

Rachel Hoffman is a New York City-based Casting Director and has served as a guest instructor for the MPulse Musical Theatre Workshop since 2009. Her Broadway casting credits include MJ, Beetlejuice, Come From Away, Frozen, Diana, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, An American In Paris, First Date, Bring It On, and Memphis. Other NY credits include The Bedwetter (Atlantic), Guys & Dolls and Candide (Carnegie Hall), Bat Boy, Altar Boyz, and Godspell (2000 revival). Regionally she has cast projects for Williamstown Theatre Festival, New York Stage & Film, La Jolla Playhouse, The Goodman Theatre, The St. Louis Muny, Two River Theater,  The Alliance Theatre, and the Paper Mill Playhouse. She is an adjunct faculty member at Ball State University and teaches regularly with the Broadway Dreams Foundation. She is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department.

Sean McKnight – Guest Faculty Co-Director

Sean McKnight is a talent agent with The Hybrid Agency, a New York-based boutique whose select roster of clients can not only be seen nightly on Broadway, tour, and stages across the world, but also in regular roles on TV and film. Prior to switching his focus to representation, Sean was a performer whose list of credits include the Broadway and/or National Tours of: Anything Goes, Shrek, A Christmas Story, Curtains, The Producers, 42nd Street, Cinderella, Annie Get Your Gun, and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. He appeared in numerous productions for City Center Encores! as well as the Kennedy Center productions of Ragtime, Carnival, and Mame. An Ovation! Award and LA Drama Critics Circle Award nominee for choreography, Mr. McKnight holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from The University of Michigan and an MA in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship from The New School, where he also serves on the faculty.


Eligibility

The workshop is open to current high school juniors, although applications from current sophomores of exceptional ability and experience are considered. Admission decisions are based on a student’s application (including training and experience), recommendation, transcript, and audition. Applicants must have at least a B average in high school to be considered for the workshop.

Audition Requirements

Upload each of the following required selections as separate video files (guidelines below):

  1. Two voice audition pieces (two separate videos)
  2. Two acting audition pieces (two separate videos)
  3. Spoken personal statement (one video)
  4. Additional Material – Optional (video)

Voice (two separate video files, one song per video)

  • Applicants should upload two separate videos, each with a performance of a song from stage or film musical:  One song per video, for a total of two songs and two videos.
  • Videos should be no longer than 90 seconds in length.
  • One song should be written before 1970.
  • At the beginning of each video, applicants should announce their name and the title of the song.
  • You may use live accompaniment (with the pianist in the room with you), or an instrumental track.  There are many free instrumental track options available on YouTube and other online sources.  Please avoid singing a cappella.  
  • Applicants should not accompany themselves on piano or guitar.

Acting (two separate video files, one monologue per video)

  • Upload two separate videos of short monologues:  One monologue per video, for a total of two monologues and two videos.
  • The monologues should be from a full-length American play written after 1935, memorized, and in context of the full play.   Applicants should avoid dialects.
  • The monologues should be no longer than one and a half minutes in length.
  • At the beginning of each video, applicants should announce the title of the play, the playwright, and the character who speaks the monologue.

Personal Statement (one video file)

Record and upload a personal statement video.  Below are two questions for your personal statement.  Please answer the required question.  If time allows, you are also welcome to answer the optional question.  The personal statement video should not exceed two minutes.

Required:  What is an impactful experience in music, theatre, musical theatre or dance which helped convince you that the field of performing arts is something you want to pursue?

Optional:  How did you become interested in attending the MPulse Musical Theatre Workshop, and why would you like to participate in the program?

If you do not include the personal statement, your application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed for consideration.

Additional Material (optional video files): If you would like to include recorded selections from stage performances, upload these after the required materials. If you have any dance experience, you may also include performance excerpts.

Video Guidelines: In all video submission uploads, make sure that your face is clearly visible, with your upper body fairly near the camera and the background simple, uncluttered, and not too bright (e.g., in front of a window). Announce your name and the title of each selection in each video.

Audition Document Requirements (guidelines below)

  1. Resume
  2. Photographs
  3. Transcript
  4. Letter(s) of Recommendation

Resume

  • Upload a copy of your resume, giving details of your training and/or experience in music, theatre, and dance.
  • Please be sure that your resume upload is in PDF file format. Any other file types will not be supported.
  • On your resume, please include any choir experience you’ve had and the length of time you participated.  
  • Also list any instruments that you play and the length of study.

Headshot

  • One close-up color headshot.  This need not be a professionally-taken headshot.  Applicants are welcome to take a headshot using their camera phone.  Do your best to find a neutral and uncluttered background with good light. Senior photos are also welcome.

Transcript (Note: Applicants must have at least a B average to be considered for the workshop.)

  • Upload a copy of your unofficial transcript acquired from your high school.
  • The transcript may be scanned and uploaded by the applicant.
  • To obtain your transcript, please speak with your school guidance counselor, who may either provide you with the transcript to scan and upload, or they may send the transcript directly to mpulse@umich.edu with the following subject line:
    • Your Name — Transcripts for MPulse Musical Theatre Workshop

Recommendation Letter(s)

Applicants must submit one teacher evaluation (artistic teacher or mentor(s) preferred), academic teacher, or non-relative who can speak directly to the student’s academic aptitude, potential, and classroom performance. Applicants will need to provide the email address for their recommender via the Acceptd application platform.  Recommenders will then privately submit their letters of recommendation via Acceptd. 

Applicants may submit one additional recommendation for a total of two recommendations, but only one recommendation is required.


Merit Awards

A limited number of scholarships are available for extremely talented students based on Faculty discretion. Consideration for these scholarships is automatic for applications received by the priority application deadline.

Need-Based Awards
A limited number of need-based scholarships are available to families with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $100,000 or under in the previous calendar year, or with special circumstances due to the pandemic. To be considered you must upload your financial aid materials by the application deadline as part of your application.  This includes:

  • Monthly Expenses
  • Previous Year’s Tax Return
  • Statement of Need

Watson Scholarship (For Michigan Residents Only)

In the spirit of the life of a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School (1942) and Michigan physician, the Watson A. Young Scholarship promotes academic excellence and college aspiration among students with financial need. These need-based scholarships support middle and high school students’ participation in summer opportunities at U-M that seek to develop students’ interests and abilities in academic disciplines and expose students to the experiences and possibilities provided by higher education.

Apply for the Watson Scholarship

Resources

Contact MPulse

Phone: 734-936-2660
Email: mpulse@umich.edu

Application Resources: Coming Soon!

MPulse Policies: Refund Policy

updated October 18, 2022