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BWW Interview: Millikin University Unveils New Center for Theatre & Dance

Take a look at the brand new facility!

Students at Millikin University's School of Theatre & Dance will get a change in scenery this fall. That's because the University's newest campus facility, the Center for Theatre & Dance, is officially opening its doors.

The $29 million project features a 260-seat flexible theatre, which includes an orchestra pit, balcony and tech gallery with a tension wire grid. The new building also features lighting and sound labs, a costume studio, a costume classroom, collaboration spaces, acting studios, design classrooms, practice rooms, modern theatre equipment and offices and support facilities for current staff, with room for growth. The innovative facility houses all areas of study within the nationally recognized school.

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BWW Interview: Millikin University Unveils New Center for Theatre & Dance

Below, BroadwayWorld is checking in with the Director of the School of Theatre & Dance, Mary Black, who tells us all about what's in store for the new school year.

What sets Millikin's program apart from the rest?

Millikin's School of Theatre and Dance offers rigorous conservatory-style training within a small-school, liberal arts environment. We value small class sizes and close faculty interactions, but also offer a wide variety of opportunities to work on plays, musicals, dance, opera, devised theatre, and theatre for young audiences. We also offer a variety of unique programs, including a completely student-run production company, a semester abroad in London, our New Musicals Workshop program, and the Shakespeare Corrected program.

What can you tell us about the New Center for Theater and Dance?

This new, $29 million facility features a flexible courtyard-style theatre with state-of-the-art technology and beautiful new dance and acting studios. It features new studios and labs for design and production as well, including new costume, wigs, dye, and crafts spaces, new CADD and design studios, and a new lighting and sound lab with multiple different consoles. Students will be able to learn performance, directing, design, production, and management in all new spaces equipped with the latest technology.

BWW Interview: Millikin University Unveils New Center for Theatre & Dance BWW Interview: Millikin University Unveils New Center for Theatre & Dance

BWW Interview: Millikin University Unveils New Center for Theatre & Dance

What is the audition process like? What's the best way for students to prepare for that process?

The audition process is going to look a little different this year, due to the pandemic, but the first step is always to apply to Millikin, which can be done at or through the Common App. Once a student is accepted to the university, performance students are given a code that will allow them to submit their video audition through Get Acceptd. Design, Production, and Management Students are invited to interview, either digitally or in person, and Theatre and Performance Studies Students' applications are complete. Students are admitted to programs on a rolling basis, and will receive their results sooner if they apply and audition sooner.

In terms of preparation for auditions, I would encourage any prospective student to carefully read the instructions provided by every school for which they are auditioning or interviewing. Some schools, Millikin included, make recommendations on their websites, including composers or playwrights not to use. These recommendations are made for a reason, and I would encourage students to follow them. I would also encourage auditioning students to find ways to bring themselves to the work. We want to see you as the character, not an imitation of the performer who originated the role on Broadway. Don't ever be afraid to be uniquely you.

How will this school year be different in the wake of the pandemic?

Everything is going to be different this year. This fall, most of our classes are being offered in a hybrid format, in which classes are only meeting in person in low densities. We are still finding ways to create, though. Our main stage season is still taking place, and features a combination of outdoor, video-conferenced, and recorded performances that bring new and exciting opportunities to performers, directors, designers, and producers alike.

BWW Interview: Millikin University Unveils New Center for Theatre & Dance

Have a lot of alums gone on to have success on stage and elsewhere?

Absolutely. Whether it's in New York, Chicago, LA, on national tours and cruises, or in themed entertainment, our alumni are working successfully across the industry in performance, design, production, and management. Notable alumni: Sierra Boggess of Broadway's The Little Mermaid and The Phantom of the Opera, Anthony Norman of Broadway's The Prom and Disney's Newsies, Katy Atwell, Assistant Lighting Designer of Broadway's Moulin Rouge, and Jimmy Goode, Wigs for Broadway's Mean Girls, and Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Why do you think that kids should consider Millikin for their college experience?

Millikin provides a beautiful campus, an inclusive environment, and a variety of ways for students to get involved. From opportunities to participate in choirs, cabarets, and student films, to political and social justice groups, to Greek life, there is something here for everyone.

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