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Theatre, Bachelor's

Overview

If all the world's a stage, it's time to hit your mark!

We invite you to join the vibrant theatre community at DeSales. When you do, you also begin studying with one of the most well-known programs of its kind on the east coast. And because of our close proximity to New York and Philadelphia, we regularly invite impressive professional artists to campus and take students to New York to see Broadway theatre.

As a theatre major, you'll learn from our outstanding faculty in the University's state-of-the-art facilities. Better still, you will have the opportunity to explore one or more areas in greater depth to get a better perspective on your career pursuits after graduation.

Theatre major tracks include:

  • Acting for the Stage and Screen
  • Design and Technical Theatre
  • Musical Theatre Performance
  • Secondary Education - Theatre/English

Unique to DeSales is the chance to work with seasoned professionals from the University-hosted Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

Program highlights feature:

  • Rigorous studio training
  • A professional faculty of scholar/artists
  • Beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities
  • Critically acclaimed productions attended by 25,000 patrons annually
  • Scores of studio productions
  • Multiple musical theatre performance opportunities
  • Study abroad opportunities at the same cost as a term at DeSales
  • A long list of successful alumni
  • Senior showcase presented each spring at a New York theatre before an audience of leading industry professionals, agents, managers, and casting directors

Admissions Requirements

At DeSales, we not only look at your past academic and artistic achievement, but also your potential for future growth to determine your admission.

As a performing arts candidate you must apply and be accepted both academically to DeSales University and artistically to the major.

Academic Acceptance
We encourage you to apply early in your senior year. We use a rolling admissions system, which means you will be notified promptly about your admissions status—usually within four weeks of our receipt of your completed application.

Priority deadline for scholarship consideration is December 1 of your senior year.

We find that students who have demonstrated significant achievement within a demanding curriculum are best suited for academic life at DeSales. Quality of academic performance plays a critical role in the admissions decision making process. This helps indicate a student's potential for academic growth going forward. DeSales University welcomes applications from all qualified students regardless of race, religion, sex, national, or ethnic origin.

Apply Academically 

Artistic Acceptance
To be accepted artistically into a performing arts major, you must audition/interview for our faculty during our annual Scholarship Audition/Interview Day(s) hosted on the DeSales campus.

Apply Artistically 

Application Checklist

  • Application Fee: None
  • Transcripts: Official High School Transcript
  • Recommendations: Completed Guidance Counselor Form and Teacher Recommendation Form
  • Standardized Tests: SAT or ACT scores—official from the College Board or on your official high school transcript.

All materials can be mailed to:
DeSales University Admissions Office
2755 Station Ave.
Center Valley, PA 

Auditions / Scholarship Day

To be accepted artistically into a performing arts major, you must audition/interview for our faculty during our annual Scholarship Audition/Interview Day(s) hosted on the DeSales campus.

Additional recommendations

Remember, there is no single preferred high school academic program, but a college preparatory course of study is highly recommended. Here's an example:

  • Four years of English
  • Three or four years of college preparatory mathematics
  • A minimum of two years of modern, foreign, or classical language
  • At least two laboratory science courses
Learn more about Undergraduate Admissions & Aid

Faculty

Adjunct and Artistic Staff

  • Justen Blackstone (Voice)
  • Deborah Burril, Costume Designer
  • Rebecca Callan, Costume Shop Manager
  • Lynda Chryst, Piano Instructor
  • Louis Danowsky, Musical Director
  • Alyce Daubenspeck, Voice Instructor
  • Janellen Farmer, Voice Instructor
  • Frank Flandorffer, Guitar Instructor
  • Stephen R. Furry, Virtual Production Supervisor/Theatre Master Electrician
  • David Greenberg, Sound Designer
  • Kelly Kish, Voice Instructor
  • Louis Lanza, Voice Instructor
  • Lauren Curnow Madigan, Voice Instructor
  • Christina Dinella Makowicz, Musical Director
  • Erin Martin, Voice Instructor
  • Tom Minucci, Technical Director and Scenic Shop Foreman
  • Shelby North, Stage Management
  • Leigh Paradise, Costume Designer
  • Rebecca Pieper, Voice Instructor
  • Amber Stepanik, Costume Designer

Facilities

As a DeSales Performing Arts major, you'll study your craft in some of the best facilities in the region.  

The Labuda Center 

is an award-winning, state-of-the-art venue that is home to:

  • Main Stage (473 seat proscenium/ thrust theatre)
  • Schubert Stage (187 seat black box theatre)
  • Studio Theatre (100 seat lab theatre)
  • Conference Room/Smart Classroom
  • Labuda dance studio
  • Costume and Scene Shops

The Iacocca Studio at the Labuda Center is a professional, high definition (HD) facility outfitted for multi-camera digital video and music production equipped with:

  • three cameras
  • digital switching
  • a programmable lighting system
  • an array of studio microphones
  • multi-track mixing and editing
  • a digital graphic effects system

The HVAC system in the Labuda Center has an enhanced filtration system set to provide fresh air throughout the entire building. Hand sanitation stations are available both in and around the theatres. To ensure safe distance between audience and actors, seating begins a minimum of 10 feet from the actors in the Main Stage Theatre, and 3 feet in the Schubert Theatre.

Brisson Studios

The TV/Film Studio at Brisson Hall contains:
  • 10 Avid and Final Cut Pro editing suites that are HD compatible
  • a production office equipped with computers
  • scriptwriting software
  • high-speed Internet access

The Brisson Dance Studio

  • features a Harlequin sprung marley floor for dancer comfort and safety
  • smartroom technology
  • ability to transform into a black box theatre for informal performances

Dorothy Day Center

In addition to being the heart of student life on campus, this location features

  • Four applied music teaching studios and practice rooms

The Air Products Theater

  • is a 60-seat projection theater/classroom used for lecture courses as well as a venue for screening student work

And, classrooms across campus are equipped with video and computer projection systems to enable close study of moving images.

Careers & Internships

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for actors is expected to be faster than the average for all occupations through 2026.

Job growth in the motion picture industry will stem from continued strong demand for new movies and television shows. The same trend is expected for various director positions and producer jobs through the same period.

  • Internship opportunities at a London talent agency and at theatre in Limerick, Ireland, and Belfast, Ireland.
  • Paid internship opportunities with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, working alongside Broadway actors, well-known regional directors, and designers.
  • A New York City Senior Showcase in an off-Broadway theatre, attended by leading industry professionals, agents, and casting directors.
  • Senior Seminar Courses to help transition students into the professional world by teaching audition techniques/portfolio prep, website construction, resumes, taxes, contracts, union requirements, etc.
  • Act 3 A Senior cap-stone project where students get to test their skills by producing their very own show.
  • A wide supportive alumni network from coast to coast and beyond.

Applying Your Skills

DeSales theatre majors have the opportunity to learn experimentally through professional internships with the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a world class professional regional theatre located on the DeSales campus.  Additionally, professional internships are available with partner theatre companies and casting agencies in Ireland and London.

Tuition & Fees

DeSales can help make your college expenses affordable through a combination of grants, loans, student employment, and scholarship resources.

Cost of attendance for undergrads for 2022-2023

Resident Students

Direct Costs Tuition - $41,100

Room and Board - $13,500
Mandatory Fees - $1,500
One-time Orientation Fee for First-Year students and Transfers - $200
Total = $56,300 (including first-year/transfer fees)

Estimated Indirect Costs
Books/Supplies - $1,820
Personal Expenses - $3,892
Total cost for resident students: $62,012

Commuter Students

Direct Costs
Tuition - $41,100
Mandatory Fees - $1,300
One-time Orientation Fee for First-Year students and Transfers - $200
Total = $42,600 (including first-year/transfer fees)

Estimated Indirect Costs
Books/Supplies - $1,820
Personal Expenses - $3,892
Transportation Costs - $1,724
Living Expenses - $2,076
Total cost for commuter students: $52,112

Off-Campus*

Direct Costs
Tuition - $41,100
Mandatory Fees - $1,300
One-time Orientation Fee for First-Year students and Transfers - $200
Total = $42,600 (including first-year/transfer fees)

Estimated Indirect Costs
Books/Supplies - $1,820
Personal Expenses - $3,892
Transportation Costs - $1,724
Living Expenses - $8,304
Total cost for off-campus students: $58,340
*First-year students are required to reside on campus or commute from home.

Parking Fee - $75

 

Dual Degree Undergraduate-to-Graduate Programs

If you are enrolled in an undergraduate-to-graduate degree program — for example a 5-year, 3+2, 3+3, program — the undergraduate tuition and fees apply only to the undergraduate portion of the program. As you progress into the graduate phase of your program, graduate tuition and fees apply. Please see your respective graduate program for more information. 

The financial aid process may appear overwhelming at first glance, but don't worry, we'll help you through it.

Accepted students are automatically be considered for scholarships upon receipt of a completed application and are awarded regardless of financial need. Funds for scholarships are limited, so we do encourage students to apply early.

Our comprehensive financial aid packages carefully explain the types and amounts of assistance —including federal, state, and institutional — that you may be eligible for to help cover education related expenses.

Total cost of attendance includes estimates for tuition, fees, room, board, books, and personal, transportation, and living expenses.

You can estimate your total cost of attendance with our Net Price Calculator

 

Tracks

Acting for Stage and Screen

We invite you to join the vibrant theatre community at DeSales. When you do, you also begin studying with one of the most well-known programs of its kind on the east coast. And because of our proximity to New York and Philadelphia, we regularly invite impressive professional artists to campus and take students to New York to see Broadway theatre.

As a theatre major, you'll learn from our outstanding faculty in the University's state-of-the-art facilities. Better still, you will have the opportunity to explore one or more areas in greater depth to get a better perspective on your career pursuits after graduation.

  • Acting for the Stage and Screen students can audition from day one.
  • Receive thorough and broad-based training from highly skilled, working-professional teachers
  • Required classes include: Intermediate Acting, voice, movement, contemporary theatre, acting for the camera
  • Additional specialized Acting for the Stage and Screen courses include: Advanced acting, Acting Styles, Shakespeare performance, combat, playwriting, Advanced acting for the camera
  • Acting for the Stage and Screen students are also welcome to take courses in the Musical Theatre track as well as the Design and Technology Theatre track.

Musical Theatre

Establish and strengthen professional-level discipline and performance skills through musical theatre performance courses, dance training including jazz, tap, and ballet, and private vocal instruction as well as music theory. You'll also study the fundamentals of acting and directing, receive training for the speaking voice, and have the opportunity to enroll in acting for the camera, acting styles, and Shakespeare courses.

  • Establish and strengthen professional-level discipline and performance skills.
  • Musical Theatre students take voice lessons each semester and can audition from day one.
  • Required classes include: music theory, voice, musical theatre performance, tap, jazz
  • Additional specialized Musical Theatre courses include: advanced musical theatre performance, advanced voice, musical theatre history, introduction to Ballet and Modern, Tap II, Jazz II
  • Musical Theatre students are also welcome to take courses in the Acting for Stage and Screen track as well as the Design and Technology Theatre track.

Design and Technology

Designers and Technicians receive the benefit of a focused and individualized education from seven full-time faculty and professional staff members. Students participate in a sophisticated and demanding production system that provides multiple leadership opportunities in all technical areas.  As students advance through their degree, DeSales faculty and staff encourage students to hone their skills by choosing to concentrate in a specific discipline of theatrical design or production.  The combination of rigorous theatrical courses, intensive hands-on experience, and outside workshops attributes to the success of our highly sought after alums.

  • Areas of Concentration:  Scene Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design, Stage Management, Technical Production and Costume Production.
  • Design and Technology students are involved in production from day one.
  • Design students have the opportunity to design a production in our Act 1 season.
  • Design and Technology students are also welcome to take courses in the Musical Theatre track as well as the Acting for Stage and Screen track.

Secondary Education-Theatre/English

Want to share your love of Theatre with the next generation? 

Theatre students can choose between a teacher certificate in English or a teacher certificate in Communications.

Establish and strengthen your professional-level teaching, discipline, and performance skills in the field of theatre education. The Four Plus One Secondary Education program prepares you to become a certified teacher in Pennsylvania's secondary schools as you pursue your theatre degree.

DeSales Theatre students seeking Secondary Education certification in grades 7-12 are eligible to apply for the Theatre Endorsement. An endorsement is a credential in an area where formal certification does not exist in Pennsylvania and is intended to show a student's specialized training and skill in the endorsed area. DeSales is one of five Universities in the state that has been approved by PDE to offer the Theatre endorsement, which consists of four Theatre courses.

DeSales students in the Four Plus One Secondary Education program take 5 education courses in their undergraduate program. Upon graduation, they transition to the graduate program for secondary certification. Graduate program entrance requires: a 3.0 cumulative GPA and successful completion of the PRAXIS exam related to area of certification. In the graduate program, students complete coursework in their first summer to become eligible for the Intern Certificate. They then apply for full time employment as a classroom teacher in their area of certification. As employed teachers, they complete the remaining field and student teaching course requirements in their own classrooms. Students complete remaining coursework in the following summer, and then apply for their full Instruction I certification, as well as a M.Ed. degree in Secondary Education. Please note: Tuition costs vary between undergraduate and graduate coursework. 

Secondary Education students are also welcome to take courses in the Acting for the Stage and Screen track, Musical Theatre track, and Design and Technology Theatre track.

Academic Catalog

 

  • Performance opportunities each year include six main-stage and second-stage productions, more than seventy-five studio and film projects, and two dance concerts.
  • Act 1 theatre productions have 11 performances over a week and a half run.
  • A Senior cap-stone project (Act 3) where students get to test their skills by producing their own production. 
  • TR 451 Senior Seminar.  A class to help transition students into the professional world by teaching audition techniques, headshots, resumes, reels, taxes, contracts, etc.
  • Senior showcase presented each spring at a New York theatre before an audience of leading industry professionals, agents, managers, and casting directors
  • Unique to DeSales is the chance to work with seasoned professionals from the University-hosted Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Students can start earning their equity points while still in college.
  • Master classes with Broadway, film, and television guest artists supplement the training curriculum.

Actor Lawrence Gilliard Jr.

It was a joy working with the acting students of DeSales University ... I could see and hear the student’s passion for their craft and their eagerness to get out into the world and share it. I wish them all the best and I hope to meet up with some of them on set someday.”

— Lawrence Gilliard Jr. , Actor (The Wire, Gangs of New York, The Deuce)

RJ Craig DeSales University Student

I came to DeSales to pursue my passion for design. I knew I wanted to be somewhere where the quality of productions inspired me. The DeSales Performing Arts Division makes us well-rounded collaborators, and the alumni network gives us the opportunity to make connections with professionals currently in the industry.

— RJ Craig '24

theatre production

Performing Arts Scholarships and Auditions

As a candidate for the DeSales Dance, Theatre, or TV/Film majors, you must apply and be accepted academically and artistically. To be accepted artistically into one of the performing arts majors, you must audition and/or interview, depending on the major.
Register for your performing arts audition or interview
Two actors from DeSales University's production of Pride and Prejudice from the fall of 2021

Act 1 Performing Arts

Act 1 is DeSales University’s highly-acclaimed performing arts company featuring professional-caliber productions of plays and musicals, dance concerts and film festivals.

Each year we welcome another group of eager young artists, all drawn to DeSales to hone their craft and create art that will inspire and entertain. We offer enchanting and provocative stories that will — with the mere rise of a curtain — unlock the limitlessness of your imagination. 

Learn More about Act 1

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

A leading Shakespeare festival with an emerging national reputation for excellence, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (PSF) is a professional theatre company on the campus of DeSales University.

Each summer, PSF produces a season of Shakespeare and other classics, musical theatre, and children’s theatre. 

Visit PSF
Christian Coulson as King Richard, Justin Adams as Bolingbroke and Ensemble. Photo by Lee Butz
Employers

Career Preparation from Day One

We're passionate about helping our students and alumni explore major and career options, find experiential education, and achieve post-graduation success in an evolving global world. 

Explore the Career Development Center