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BWW Interview: Learn About Temple University's MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration

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BroadwayWorld is checking in with Program Head for the Abbott MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration, Steven Gross.

BWW Interview: Learn About Temple University's MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration

Want to further your education in the arts? Temple University's Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Collaboration could be the program for you!

Contribute to the development and creation of new musical theater performances with the Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Collaboration in Temple's School of Theater, Film and Media Arts. This innovative, three-year, 60-credit graduate degree prepares you for a career in the musical theater industry as a collaborating creative team member and independent artist engaged in the creation of new musical theater works.

The Musical Theater Collaboration MFA's unique curriculum is built upon field-driven, experiential techniques and craft-based training through production, studio and workshop opportunities. Learn more about Temple's Musical Theater Collaboration MFA.

Below, BroadwayWorld is checking in with Program Head for the Abbott MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration, Steven Gross, to learn more about the program.


What do you think sets Temple's theatre program apart from others like it?

This program accepts a small select cohort of applicants, and we've developed a curriculum that incorporates both individual instruction tailored to meet their needs and skill sets as well as group classes where the collaborative process is more fully investigated.

We've also arranged schedules that allow for creation, development, rehearsal and workshop productions of complete works by the end of each student's degree program. Our coursework also focuses on the craft of teaching so each of our graduate students gain practical in-class experience working with our large, diverse student body. Other programs with larger student enrollment can't offer these things.

I understand you are actively recruiting for the MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration. What can you share about what kind of students you are looking for?

We're looking for students who are creatively and academically motivated and who embody an intellectual and artistic curiosity and passion for the ever-evolving field of musical theater. As this program focuses on collaboration, we're also looking for creators who bring a mindset of openness and thoughtfulness and a munificence of spirit to their creative process.

How many generally make up each class?

That number will vary, but somewhere between 6 and 10 students.

It looks like the program has welcomed some amazing guest artists. Have any stood out particularly to you or to students?

The generosity of time and support on the part of all of our guest artists who have spoken and worked with our cohort has been wonderful. We hope to continue to cultivate more of these relationships going forward. If I can pick a few examples, I might cite Lisa Kron and Maury Yeston who were able to speak eloquently about their own creative processes, or Michael Starobin who not only worked with our students in class but was gracious enough to review outside work by some of them.

Have a lot of alumni gone on to success in the industry? What kind of careers are they pursuing?

Yes, all of our graduates are working within the industry as directors, composers, writers, lyricists, music directors, educators and mentors. For more info, please see: https://tfma.temple.edu/abbott-mfa-alumni

What would you say to a prospective student who isn't sure that further education is necessary for this career path?

Each individual student is different, and depending on their undergraduate training, and how much time they've spent in the field to continue to hone and develop their skills, a graduate degree might not be necessary. For those students who are looking to not only deepen their course of study in their own discipline and broaden their spheres of learning in tangential fields relevant to their craft, but also have a passion for mentorship and teaching, Temple's MFA program is ideal for them.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of the Temple team?

That has to be the support provided by the students, faculty, and administration for this new program. Launching a new degree is challenging, and throughout the inaugural class' tenure which wrapped up this past May, (and through a pandemic), I encountered nothing but positivity, flexibility and commitment for its success. I'm looking forward to the start of the next cohort's tenure in the Fall of 2022.


BWW Interview: Learn About Temple University's MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration Steven has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway, the West End and internationally as a music director, conductor, pianist, sub and vacation conductor. He is a Lortel Award nominee for Best Musical for his adaption of The Pirates of Penzance at the South Street Seaport. He has conducted the European premieres of The Life, Urinetown, Falsettos, Beehive, Forever Plaid, Closer Than Ever, Flora the Red Menace and other works. He also works extensively as a classical conductor and has appeared with many national and international opera companies, symphony orchestras and festivals. He is as an orchestrator and arranger for many symphony orchestras, theatrical, digital and online productions. His musical Nijinsky has been performed in Berlin, Zurich and Monte Carlo.

Steven has collaborated on new musicals with Award-winning composers and lyricists including Benny Andersson & Bjorn Ulvaeus, Sam Carner & Derek Gregor, Douglas Cohen and Zoe Samuel, Cy Coleman, David Friedman, Zina Goldrich & Marcy Heisler, Mark Hollmann & Greg Kotis, Brett Macias, Lauren Taslitz & Danny Ursetti. Steven holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from Yale University and is a Fulbright and Rotary Scholar. He has extensive experience working in academia as a clinician, guest artist and professor. He is currently the program head of The Abbott MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration Program at Temple University.


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