Interview: Institute for American Musical Theatre's Michael Minarik Teaches Students to Seek Joy

The Director and Acting Head at the Institute for American Musical Theatre discusses what sets IAMT's program apart, studying in NYC, and more.

By: Jan. 25, 2023
Interview: Institute for American Musical Theatre's Michael Minarik Teaches Students to Seek Joy
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The Institute for American Musical Theatre is a post-secondary, two-year professional training program for students 17 years of age and up (exceptional dancers who are 15 or 16 years of age may be considered). The musical theatre program is located in New York City and features a wide range of faculty members currently working in the theatre industry.

Many former students have also gone on to success on Broadway and beyond. Miriam Ali, who is currently a swing in Funny Girl on Broadway says, "IAMT was a safe space where I could explore my artistry on a daily basis with the most awesome people. I felt that I could do anything, and that no matter what I am a storyteller first. The possibilities were endless, and my teachers helped me explore my craft from a place of love. I was excited to come to school every single day to dig deeper. I'm forever grateful."

To learn more about the program, BroadwayWorld sat down with Michael Minarik (Les Mis, Rock of Ages, Matilda​​​​​​), the Director and Acting Head at the Institute for American Musical Theatre, to discuss what sets IAMT's program apart, studying in New York City, and the importance of seeking joy.

What do you think sets Institute for American Musical Theatre's program apart from others like it?

What is special about IAMT that sets it apart from other programs is that you get to learn from past and present working professionals every single day. With that advantage, you're building a professional network and community which is incredibly important in any world of business. Networking is one of the key factors in succeeding in every form of business whether it be in architecture or playing basketball. Especially in the arts, as it is the most collaborative business there is. So meeting people from all different facets of the industry is vital, which is the bedrock of IAMT.

What is the admissions/audition process like and what kind of students are you generally looking for?

At IAMT, we look for passionate people looking to put in the time and effort into their profession. Many people are talented, but the work ethic, and the kindness and joy while doing that work, is what is so incredibly important to us at IAMT. Our students work because they are talented but they are also good people who have worked really hard to cultivate that talent.

Our audition process is either virtual or in person and all that information can be found on our website.

What advantages do you see in going to a school in a city setting like New York?

The advantages of going to a school in NYC are vast. From getting your apartment early on, to getting a side job if need be, to learning to navigate the city, taking extra classes on top of your weekly classes to meet and work with other people, to seeing the shows and performances that are currently happening in the world you are working to be a part of. You also get to meet new people and expand that community of friends, and professionals before you even begin your career. It's tough going to a school outside the city and then being thrust into it without a lot of help. When going to IAMT, you start with a group around you to ease you into the world you are about to join.

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

IAMT has many grads already working in the professional field, from Broadway to Off-Broadway, national tours, regional theaters, TV/film, cruise ships, theme parks, voice-over work, commercials, music videos, and even performing on the LIZZO tour! IAMT students are very eclectic and realize it's not just Broadway--there are so many different avenues of being a working artist. We also have students looking to stage manage, direct, and choreograph, which they have opportunities to do as well.

Interview: Institute for American Musical Theatre's Michael Minarik Teaches Students to Seek Joy

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

You will always need to keep training. Your artistry is like a muscle. If you don't use it, it's hard to ramp back up again. Almost like a runner training for a marathon. Broadway performers are doing voice lessons all the time. Professionals are taking TV/film classes, as well as dance classes. Training is the base of being a working artist and IAMT helps you begin your journey with that training.

What has been the most rewarding part of being a part of the Institute for American Musical Theatre team?

The joy. At IAMT, we teach with joy every day. We have sayings on our stairs when you walk in that say "Seek Your Joy," "Choose Love," "Breathe," and "Get a Snack." We have pictures all over the school that denote happiness and love and joy. It's the bedrock of everything that we teach at IAMT: love and kindness and choosing to experience the world and your art through that joy and love. We strive to have that environment every single day with the staff and students and parents, so when the students graduate they bring that love with them wherever they go and impart that on their job, their friends, their co-workers, and the world. It's the most important part of what we do at IAMT. Seek our joy and choose love. That's it. That's what everything is based on.

Applications for Fall 2023 are now open. To learn more about the program or to apply, click here.

Photo Credit: Beau Austin