School of Performing Arts students perform the opera The Pirates of Penzance.
Music and theatre have become increasing popular majors at Reinhardt University, so administrators have taken steps to keep the programs prospering. In September the institution’s Board of Trustees changed the name of the School of Music to the School of Performing Arts, and moved the theatre program into the new school. Now undergraduate programs in theater, music performance, music education, sacred music, and musical theatre and a master of music are all housed in the School of Performing Arts, the only one of its kind in Georgia, and approximately 180 students are majoring in one or more of these program offerings.
“The School of the Performing Arts combines our excellent programs in music with the University's theatre degree program and the new musical theatre degree program,” said Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood. “It brings together all the University's performing arts and combines the resources of these programs to further support and encourage them. Reinhardt has a well-earned and growing reputation for the performing arts, and this change further enhances those activities at the University.”
Putting the two popular majors together in one school was a logical step, Dr. Dennis K. McIntire, dean of the School of Performing Arts, said. Musical theatre and theatre “share faculty, staff, students, space and resources,” he said. “It… made sense for them to be together. We had the School of Music, which had established a presence in Georgia. We had the School of Arts & Humanities, but theatre was kind of lost in it. With the School of Performing Arts, they are all on the same plane, together in one place. The new name and combination of programs better describes more fully who we are.”
Being the only School of Performing Arts on the college or university level in all of Georgia makes Reinhardt unique, and the many high school students who attend these type schools can better relate to what Reinhardt offers, McIntire said. Reinhardt graduates will be more well-rounded because they graduated from a school that offers an intensive focus in both music and theatre.
Reinhardt’s theatre program, an intensive professional-style training program within a liberal arts setting, began in 2010, and already its students are getting noticed in the theatre ranks. At the 2012 Georgia Theatre Conference auditions, five Reinhardt theatre students made it to the state auditions and were in the top 10% of all those who auditioned. Kate Johnson, then a senior from Canton, Ga., had the highest competitive score of the entire conference.
“The theatre program is extremely excited to be a part of the School of Performing Arts,” said David Nisbet, assistant professor of theatre. “With the move, we have higher visibility and more access to the fine arts infrastructure. I expect the theatre program will begin to attract better and better talent, produce more and larger shows and become a force in the Southeast as far as theatre training programs."
Currently theatre and musical theatre productions are held each semester in the Falany Performing Arts Center Concert Hall or in the Hoke O’Kelley Auditorium in the Burgess Administration Building on Reinhardt’s main campus in Waleska, Ga., but a new Theatre Arts Center is under development. Once funds are raised, plans finalized, and the theatre is constructed, it will complete an “arts triangle” that also includes the Falany Performing Arts Center and the Fincher Visual Arts Center around Lake Mullenix.
“Our mantra has been ‘a conservatory style training program in a small liberal arts setting,’” said Nisbet. “With the building of the new theatre facility, the students will have more opportunities to train, both in acting and technical theatre. The space will provide a comfortable place to study and for an audience to attend exciting productions!”
The next performance slated for the Reinhardt Theatre and Musical Theatre program is “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare, which will be directed by Dr. Kevin Crawford, assistant professor of English and theatre. Follow the Reinhardt University Theatre Program and Falany Performing Arts Center pages on Facebook, or visit www.reinhardt.edu/FPAC to keep up-to-date on all School of Performing Arts productions.
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