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BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat

The National Music Theater Institute (NMTI) is the newest credit-earning, semester-long intensive from the National Theater Institute. Utilizing the O'Neill's experience and excellence in training young theater artists and history of developing new musicals (including Nine, Avenue Q, In The Heights, [title of show], and Violet), NMTI offers broad-based training in all areas of musical theater: acting, singing, directing, writing, dance, composition, and choreography.

This past weekend we welcomed the inaugural class of the National Music Theater Institute. These students join one of the most talent-rich, open-hearted, and soulful training grounds in the country. The O'Neill has been a beacon of light in the theater industry and the National Music Theater Institute, following in the acclaimed footsteps of the long-running NTI semester, is an innovative breeding ground for the next generation of curious, courageous, risk-inclined artists.

Some of the over 50 professional artists the NMTI students will be working with this semester include: Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Nick Blaemire, Jeff Bowen, Victoria Clark, Gavin Creel, Donna Di Novelli, David Dorfman, Mike Errico, Alex Gemignani, Daniel Goldstein, Deidre Goodwin, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Ryan Kasprzak, Kait Kerrigan, Michael John LaChiusa, Brian Lowdermilk, Leslie McDonel, Brian McManamon, Mel Marvin, G.W. "Skip" Mercier, Susan Misner, Scott Murphy, Kelli O'Hara, Erin Ortman, Steven Pasquale, Lorenzo Pisoni, Alejandro Rodriguez, Aimee Steele, Jessica Stone, Thomas Viertel, Gregg Wiggans, and Betsy Wolfe.

In addition to the semester's rigorous curriculum--classes 14 hours a day, 7 days a week with emphasis on collaboration and the creation of original work--we'll be spending two weeks in New York City meeting with performers and writers of all stripes; taking classes; attending workshops and dress rehearsals for new musicals; visiting museums; participating in a recording session with Sh-K-Boom Records; bird-watching in Central Park with Jeff Bowen; as well as seeing 12 shows in 15 days.

To this end, I've asked my students to help me grapple with a quote. It's this: "To be prepared against surprise is to be trained. To be prepared for surprise is to be educated." It's from the book Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Play and Possibility written by James Carse. For me, it's one of those quotes that flits back and forth between states of crystal clarity and royal obfuscation; meaning, sometimes I look at it and I know exactly what's what, bone-deep. It makes complete sense. Then later I'll read it again (even, say, 30 seconds later) and I'll have no idea what's going on. At NMTI, we're going to collectively track the meaning of his words over the course of the semester together. Calibrating "training" and "education", assessing not only the mutual inclusivity of both--but also affirming the significance of "surprise", that end-all be-all chestnut.

I look forward to better understanding Carse's words by sharing NTI's unique "semester-away" experience with the next generation of musical theater artists, teaching them, learning from them, and having BroadwayWorld's Risk Again! blog along for the ride.

Jonathan Bernstein
NMTI Artistic Associate

Next week: Actor, writer, director, and NTI alum John Krasinski reflects on his time at the National Theater Institute in the fall of 2001.

To learn more and apply, visit www.nationaltheaterinstitute.org and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@NTIRiskFailRisk). Deadline to apply for the spring 2015 semester is October 20. Early applications are encouraged.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
The Rose Barn Theater at the O'Neill. Hundreds of new musicals have been developed in this iconic red barn.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
Students warm up on the field. The O'Neill's 90-acre seaside campus is available for use by students.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
Students also learn about designing and producing music theater.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
NTI offers ensemble-based theater training.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
NMTI offers training in music theater 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
NMTI enables students to create original work, laying the groundwork for the future of music theater.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
NMTI Artistic Associate Jonathan Bernstein. Photo by Hooman Bahrani.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
IN THE HEIGHTS was developed at the O'Neill in 2005. Photo by A. Vincent Scarano.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, and Susan Blackwell have developed two shows at the O'Neill and will return to teach at NMTI this semester.

BWW Exclusive: National Music Theater Institute - Training Beyond the Triple Threat
AVENUE Q was developed at the O'Neill in 2002.


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