Focus Course Profile

This course requires students to create and perform in dramatic presentations. Students will analyze, interpret, and perform dramatic works from various cultures and time periods. Students will research various acting styles and conventions that could be used in their presentations, and analyze the functions of playwrights, directors, actors, designers, technicians, and audiences. 

This course emphasizes the development of students' artistry, improvisational and compositional skills, and technical proficiency in global dance genres. Students will apply dance elements, techniques, and tools in a variety of ways, including performance situations; describe and model responsible practices related to the dance environment; and reflect on how the study of dance affects personal and artistic development.

This course combines aspects of both ADB 3M and ATU 3M to create the Musical Theatre course. Ideally this course should reflect both drama and dance so that students can take a credit in either ADB 3M or ATU 3M depending of the strengths of the teacher or the needs of the student.

Course Overview 

This course examines 20th and 21st Century musical theatre works in video, audio recordings, texts, scores, and live performance to discover the variety, depth and appeal of the genre. Students will apply their skills in drama, music and dance to explore and present songs and scenes. They will analyze the components of music theatre in historical contexts and experiment with creating and performing their own music theatre structures.  

Scope & Sequence

Unit Descriptions

Unit I: What is Music Theatre? (20 hours) 

Students examine and explore text, film and audio recordings to understand how modern Music Theatre developed from revues and variety shows into the contemporary integrated structure in which song and dance are motivated by the demands of plot and character. Students explore key elements of the genre and experience the work of significant Music Theatre professionals. Students research and make presentations about how plays, novels, historical events and other sources have been used by creative teams to create Music Theatre, and how the genre has adapted to remain relevant to contemporary audiences. These presentations may take the form of seminars, demonstrations, or in-role interviews and will be shared at appropriate times throughout the course. See Appendix #5 Music Theatre Research topics.

Unit 2: Time to Sing (20 hours) 

Students develop through practical work a basic understanding of voice and singing. Students explore the importance of caring for their personal vocal instrument, engaging in vocal warm-up, and developing vocal skills and confidence through consistent rehearsal. Students experience the value of choosing songs that are appropriate for their vocal type and singing songs that expand their repertoire and performance portfolio.

Unit 3: Acting the Song (15 hours) 

Students critically analyze songs from Music Theatre to discover both literal meaning and subtext. They learn the importance of understanding a character's given circumstances and objectives, and how to apply these   discoveries in rehearsal and performance. They experiment with a range of songs, both duet and solo, and explore ways to use acting technique to deepen the characters they create in the songs they sing.

Unit 4: Choreography – From the Basics to Performance (20 hours) 

Students will experience a series of warm-ups and learn basic steps adopted from choreographers such as Bob Fosse and Tommy Tune. Students create their own warm-ups and develop an understanding of why warming up is such an important part of preparing for dance rehearsal and performance. Students observe and research the works of a variety of musical theatre choreographers and apply this learning to their original compositions in the culminating unit assignment.

Unit 5: Audition Preparation (10 hours) 

Students will build their confidence by learning how to prepare for an audition for a musical. Students learn to write a resume, present themselves in an interview, and demonstrate their skills by singing a song, taking part in a group dance activity, and giving a cold reading of an excerpt from a musical theatre scene.

Unit 6: The Theatre Den: Pitching the Show (20 hours)

In this unit, the students work in groups to pitch an idea for an original musical: the story arc, sample scenes, two or more song selections, short choreographed numbers, stage design and production elements. The songs and choreographed numbers are performed live during the ‘pitch’ of the show. Students will engage in the creative and critical analysis processes (see Ministry guideline) to develop the story they would like to tell through musical theatre, using improvisation and compositional forms to create the story, lyrics, melodies, and choreography.  Students document their creative and critical thinking processes through either journaling or blogging.

Culminating Activity

Students present their Theatre Den pitches to the class.  They pitch their stories including elements of marketing strategies such as posters and media that are part of selling a show. They will sing at least two songs with choreography and perform one short dance and one spoken scene without singing.  As audience members, students provide feedback to each other as performers.


Website Resources: (choreography program information)

Song & Script, 1200 Bloor St., Toronto, 416-923-3044

Book Resources:   

Bloom, Ken & Vlastnik, Frank, Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of All Time, Black Dog and Leventhal Pub. 2004. ISBN 978-1-57912-313-0

Dilworth, Rollo, Choir Builders, Milwaukee, WI, Hal Leonard Corp. 2006. ISBN 9781423425236

Flinn, Denny Martin, The Great American Book Musical, Limelight Editions. 2008. ISBN 978-0-87910-362-0

Frankel, Aaron, Writing the Broadway Musical, Drama Book Publishers. 2009 ISBN 0-89676-044-8  

Kanner, Ellie and Flinn, Denny Martin, How Not To Audition Lone Eagle: 2003. ISBN 1-58065-049-x (for examples of good/bad resumes

McWaters, Debra, The Fosse Style, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008. ISBN 978-0-8130-3153-8 

Moore, Tracey with Bergman, Allison, Acting the Song: Performance Skills for Musical Theatre Allworth Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-1-58115-505-1

Mordden, Ethan, One More Kiss: The Broadway Musical in the 70's, Palgrave MacMillan,  2003 ISBN 031223953x

Newhouse, Miriam & Messaline, Peter, The Actor's Survival Kit, Simon & Pierre. 2007 ISBN: 978-1-55002-678-8 (esp. Chapters 5, 6, on auditioning)

Peterik, Jim, Bickford, Mary Ellen, Austin, Dave, Songwriting for Dummies, New York, NY  Wiley Publishing Inc. ISBN 0764554042 

Richards, Stanley, Great Rock Musicals, Stein & Day. 1979. (out of print, but widely available used, complete book and lyrics for Hair, The Wiz, Grease, 4 others)

Silver, Fred, Auditioning for the Musical Theatre. Penguin Books, 1985. ISBN 0 14 01.0499 2

Singer's Library of Musical Theatre. Alfred Publishing. 2009. (8 volumes: soprano, mezzo-alto, tenor, bass-baritone) plus CD's. ISBN 10:0-7390-4473-7, et al.

The Singer's Musical Theatre Anthology. (Richard Walters, ed.) Hal Leonard Corp. (A comprehensive, multi-volume anthology of songs from the Music Theatre repertoire arranged by vocal range, with accompaniment CD's included. (example: Book 1, Soprano Only: EAN 9780881885460) (see for complete list) 

Singing Is Easy – Basic Foundation Series (5 pack for teachers)

You Can Sing with Impact – Daily Warm-up Workout  Press, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-1-58115-505-1

Instructional Strategies

Teacher directed lessons

Student directed lessons

Peer feedback




Cooperative Learning

Rubric Development


Independent Study

Small and Large Group Discussion/Brainstorming 

Presentation – formal and informal 

Cooperative Learning - peer feedback 

Independent and teacher directed rehearsal

Glossary of Terms Specific to Course

Alto - the lowest female voice; contralto; the second highest of the four parts of a mixed vocal chorus, or the voices or persons singing this part

Audition - a trial hearing given to a singer, actor, or other performer to test suitability for employment, professional training or competition, etc.

Bass - low in pitch; of the lowest pitch or range: a bass voice; a bass instrument; of or pertaining to the lowest part in harmonic music

Cake Walk - (formerly) a promenade or march of black American origin in which the couple with the most intricate or eccentric steps received cakes as prizes (adapted by choreographer Bob Fosse)

Charleston - a fast rhythmic ballroom dance in 4/4 time; popular in the 1920s

Cold Reading - auditioning with a script that you have not had the opportunity to read before the audition

Composer - the person who writes the music for a musical

Down Beat - the first beat of a measure

Follow up similar to a canon but it may be sequenced count for count with the music 

Forte - loudly

 Given Circumstances - the essential information that a performer must know to understand the context of a scene or song

Grapevine - it includes side steps and steps across the support foot

Harmony - the simultaneous combination of two or more pitches or notes; when blended into chords is pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm

Legato - smooth and connected; without breaks between the successive tones

Libretto - the book for a musical including spoken lines and lyrics

Lindy - an energetic jitterbug dance also called the lindy hop; popular in the 1930s

Lyrics - the words of a song

Lyricist - a person who writes the words for songs

Melody - musical sounds and silences in agreeable succession or arrangement

Musical Comedy - a form of musical theatre in which the emphasis is on comedic elements such as romantic intrigue,  usually with a happy ending

Musical Play - a form of musical theatre in which the emphasis is on real people in real situations

Objective - a character's goal or intention in a scene or song

Obstacle - something that stands between a character and his or her ability to meet an objective or achieve a goal

Piano – softy

Pitch - to set at a particular pitch, or determine the key or keynote of (a melody); related to the highness or lowness of a tone

Producer - the person who oversees the business details of a theatrical production

Production Number - a large-scale performance within a musical, usually combining song, dance and lavish costume

Rest - an interval of silence between tones

Revue - a show consisting of several short items such as songs, dances, sketches and monologues, often connected by theme

Soprano - the uppermost part of voice

Subtext - information that is implied but not stated by a character; thought or actions that do not always express the same meaning as the character's spoken words

Tactics - the means by which a character tries to achieve an objective

Tempo - relative rapidity or rate of movement, usually indicated by such terms as adagio (slowly, gracefully), allegro (quickly in a lively way), moderator (moderate speed), largo (slow), etc., or by reference to the metronome

Tenor  - the adult male voice intermediate between the bass and the alto or countertenor

Time Signature - a numerical or other indication at the beginning of a piece showing the meter

Tone - any sound considered with reference to its quality, pitch, strength, source, etc.

Vibrato - a pulsating effect, produced in singing by the rapid reiteration of emphasis on a tone, and on bowed instruments by a rapid change of pitch corresponding to the vocal tremolo

Vocal folds - either of two pairs of folds of mucous membrane projecting into the larynx [syn: vocal cord

Examples of Activities

Unit 1- What is Music Theatre? 

Purpose: To explore the characteristics of Music Theatre

  1. Share excerpts from musicals on film or CD which illustrate different aspects of the genre (see Appendix #1 for suggestions).
  2. Ask students to comment on the similarities and/or general characteristics of musicals that they notice from these excerpts e.g. songs, dance, spectacle.
  3. Record these on chart paper or SmartBoard and post. Revisit these assumptions throughout the course and refine as the class proceeds.

Unit 2 - Time to Sing

Storytelling through a song

Unit 3 -Acting the Song

Finding Objectives and Tactics in a Song

Unit 4 – Choreography - From the Basics to Performance 

Integrating dance

Unit 5 - Audition Preparation 

The Theatre Resume

Unit 6 – Music Theatre Den - Pitching the Show 

Creating the skeleton for a musical and 'selling' the idea to others 

Assessment and Evaluation Strategies

Ongoing: student-teacher conferences, descriptive feedback, self-, peer-, and whole group reflection, strategic questioning (closed, open, probing, diagnostic)

Observation:  anecdotal records, checklists, oral feedback, rubrics

Demonstrations: projects, storyboards, role-play/improvisation, written assignments (film reviews, "writing in role", etc.), video projects, quizzes and tests 

Meta-cognitive: self-assessment, peer-assessment, collaboratively designed assessment tools (rubrics, checklists), reflective journals, film reviews, exit cards, student-teacher selected format to show evidence of learning