New Musical Theatre Program Debuts

Jun 2, 2014

by Staff

Call it the Glee phenomenon. For at least a dozen years now, more and more young people have been drawn to the magic of theatrical performance that combines acting, singing and dancing, which means Florida Southern College has started its new Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre program at just the right time.

While the style has evolved from the familiar show tunes of Rodgers and Hammerstein to the contemporary anthems of Rent, musical theatre is undergoing a renaissance, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and Department of Theatre Arts Chair James Beck said.

“Students come in knowing all about the latest shows—shows I’m not even familiar with,” he said. “They all want to be in a show.”

It’s what Kortney Adcock wants. In just her first semester, the freshman musical theatre major from Panama City, Fla., has appeared in two productions.  

“The idea of being one of the students to help start the new musical theatre major is very exciting,” she said.

FSC’s musical theatre program was launched at the start of the fall semester with 11 students and a new faculty member, Christi Roll, whose specialty is musical theatre (see box, p. 13). Already, the College has expanded the number of staged musicals in its performance schedule from one to two, giving Florida Southern’s already strong theatre arts department more visibility in the local theatre scene and students more performance opportunities.

Dr. Roll provided the musical direction for the first musical in the schedule, Next to Normal. With provocative lyrics and a thrilling score, Next to Normal explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness.

“What I like about the score is that it has a great combination of instruments. And the subject matter is so important. It makes you reflect on your own life, and that’s good theatre,” Dr. Roll said.

The department’s schedule for the remainder of the year includes the musical The Wedding Singer and the classical drama Electra.

Shane Fischetti, a freshman from Phillipsburg, N.J., attended a performing arts high school and auditioned for the theatre programs at six colleges before choosing FSC.

“When I came here, I fell in love with the school. At the auditions for the others schools, you weren’t even a name, just a number. When I talked to the professors here, I knew I wanted to come. The bachelor of fine arts program was what attracted me. There are not a lot of BFA programs in musical theatre,” he said.

For Professor Beck, the musical theatre program is the fulfillment of a longtime goal and will help the College significantly toward achieving another one of his goals: to make the program—and its theatrical productions—more widely known.

\ Editor’s note: FSC uses the traditional “~re” spelling of theatre in formal program titles such as Department of Theatre Arts; the modern American “~er” spelling is used in general reference.