Theses Doctoral

A 21st Century Model for Two-year Musical Theatre Curricula

Gerbi, Elizabeth Anne

The purpose of this project dissertation was to research, create and assess a hypothetical two-year musical theatre/music theater (MT) curriculum to serve as a model for future implementation at community colleges. As one of the fastest growing and most prolific forms of popular entertainment today, the 21st Century musical is uniquely poised to depict artistically and culturally diverse narratives. Vividly reflecting the sociopolitical context surrounding their production (Kenrick, 2017, p. 2), both new musicals and musical revivals, viewed through a more contemporary lens, may permit increasing employment opportunities for historically minoritized persons. As the relatively new baccalaureate credential in MT increasingly becomes the baseline criteria for entrance to the MT industry, competitive conservatory programs continue to face difficulty in matriculating more inclusive freshman cohorts.

The American community college has a long tradition of supporting demographically diverse populations as well as “atypical” learners such as the differently abled, adults returning to school, veterans and first-generation college attendees in the pursuit of vocational training, terminal credentials in the form of a certificate or associate degree, or, increasingly, students aiming to transfer to four-year degree programs. However, accredited, two-year programs dedicated to the study and practice of MT remain virtually nonexistent in the United States, and, due to the relative newness of the discipline as an area of scholarly interest, have little precedent or pedagogic research to guide best practices.

To address this need, this project created a two-year program for MT study according to the practical restraints of the State University of New York and Dutchess Community College’s collective guidelines for curricular development, as well as the dual recommendations of the National Association of Schools of Music and National Association of Schools of Theatre. All stages of the project design were subject to peer review by a varied panel of tertiary MT educators and MT practitioners, tasked to assess academic and artistic potential of such a program if formally implemented. Upon conclusion of both formative and summative evaluations, a series of general guidelines for the development of similar programs were generated to inform similar future initiatives within both two-year and four-year settings.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Abeles, Harold F.
Ed.D.C.T., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2021