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Succeed around the globe

Award-winning faculty whose experience spans the world provide individualized instruction, giving students the extra edge they need to succeed. Preparation that extends beyond skills and experience – that’s what you’ll find in the School of Theatre.

The School of Theatre offers undergraduate and graduate degrees covering a range of areas, including Acting, Musical Theatre, Stage Management, Theatre Design and Technology, and Directing.

Learn more about our community commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

 

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Live theatre at Centre Stage

The School of Theatre houses Penn State Centre Stage (PSCS), the professional theatre training program in Central Pennsylvania. PSCS presents theatrical masterpieces and new gems – including a series of livestreamed virtual performances – by emerging masters.


Learn more about Penn State Centre Stage

One Night on Broadway

May 16, 2022

Penn State Centre Stage Broadway alumni will return home for “One Night on Broadway,” Monday, May 16, at the Penn State Downtown Theatre, 146 S. Allen Street, State College, Pa. The evening will include wine, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and a performance. The event supports Centre Stage and the School of Theatre.

Directed by Penn State alumni Robert W. Schneider (M.F.A. ’09) and music directed by Jordon Cunningham (M.F.A. ’20), the show will feature current Broadway and Penn State musical theatre alumni Maria Wirries (“Dear Evan Hansen”), J Savage (“Seesaw”), Nathan Lucrezio (“Diana”), Turner Riley (“Beyond the Binary”), Jamila Sabares-Klemm (“Baby”), and Alan Wiggins (“Paradise Square”).

Schneider exclaims, “Penn State is one of the top musical theatre programs in the country. You would be hard pressed to find a show on Broadway that doesn’t have a Nittany Lion gracing its stages. And, no matter how far we go, from Broadway to Hollywood, we will always call Penn State our home!”

“The show will include six of our Broadway alumni recreating a song they sang while at Penn State, sharing memories about their time at University Park, singing a song from one of the current Broadway shows they are working on, and taking us behind the curtain to hear about the magic of The Great White Way! Each of us are so excited to share with our State College family what we have been sharing with audiences around the world.”

VIP Reserved Seats at 5 p.m. are $250;
General Admission at 6 p.m. are $125

Tickets on sale now!

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Degree
Offerings

A discussion with students

B.A. in Theatre

The B.A. in Theatre develops the cross-trained artist/scholar, with a focus on playwriting, performance devising, directing, and preparation for graduate study.
Theatre students performing a scene from Argonautica.

B.F.A. in Acting

The B.F.A. in Acting degree program trains the next generation of stars using a holistic educational approach that prepares performers for success on every stage.
Musical Theatre students performing the halftime show at Beaver Stadium.

B.F.A. in Musical Theatre

The B.F.A. in Musical Theatre is a revered and intensive professional training program that prepares students to step into the spotlight on Broadway and beyond.
School of Theatre dress rehearsal of Argonautica.

B.F.A. in Theatre

With options in Stage Management and Theatre Design and Technology, the B.F.A. in Theatre trains the behind-the-scenes theatre professionals to produce a transformative theatrical experience by artistically engaging modern technology and skills.
Scenic design from the play Argonautica.

M.F.A. in Theatre

Program Application Deadline The deadline for applications for AY 2022–23 is January 15, 2022. To be assured full consideration, please apply by this deadline. Review individual program descriptions for details...
Stage crew students adjusting sound and lighting for the production rehearsal of Violet, located in the Playhouse Theatre at Penn State University Park campus.

Theatre Minor

The Theatre minor is designed for personal enrichment or to enhance study particularly for students in the humanities, communication, and the arts.

Teaching and Learning during COVID

Performance classes – on campus, on Zoom – always flexible, creative, and engaged!
Design Technology and Management is dedicated to achieving even deeper learning and higher levels of productivity and technique during the pandemic.

Alumni Spotlight

You’ve gotta work hard to play hard. Sure, some people can skirt by without working as hard as others, but that will only take them so far.
Penn State Musical Theatre alumna Brinie Wallace

Alumni Spotlight

Brinie Wallace

B.F.A. in Musical Theatre 2016

Brinie Wallace is currently an ensemble member in the North American tour of The Book of Mormon after premiering the musical in Australia. She says her Penn State education reinforced in her the need to be “present and persistent” in the musical theatre profession, so you are ready to take on whatever challenges come your way.

Brinie Wallace, second from the right, performs as a member of the ensemble in the nationally touring Broadway production of “The Book of Mormon.” Wallace is a 2016 Penn State School of Theatre graduate. IMAGE: The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2019

Studios, Labs and Venues

Production studio spaces, a design and lighting lab, and venues that support student, faculty, and professional performances.
See All Studios, Labs and Venues

Theatre Arts Production Studio (TAPS)

The Theatre Arts Production Studio (TAPS) features a large, state-of-the-art equipped scenic shop with adjacent properties shop and scenic paint studio. The costume shops,


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Pavilion Theatre

The Pavilion Theatre, built in 1915, is a key venue for the Penn State School of Theatre. Designed by architects Frank Miles Day and Charles


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Penn State Downtown Theatre

Finished in 2003, the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center is an intimate 152-seat theatre in the heart of downtown State College. The Penn State


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Playhouse Theatre

The Playhouse Theatre is a 383-seat proscenium-thrust theatre equipped with a dual level, moveable pit, full fly space, and advanced lighting and sound control


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Theatre Lighting Lab

The Penn State School of Theatre Lighting Lab is one of the most advanced and well-equipped labs of its kind in the country. Seating


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Faculty Spotlight

Students around a piano, working alongside Simpkins and playwright Joe Iconis.
Students around a piano, working alongside Simpkins and playwright Joe Iconis.

John Simpkins

Head of Musical Theatre

John Simpkins is head of Musical Theatre and the Nagle Family Endowed Chair at Penn State. He is also a professional director who recently directed the world premiere of Tony-nominated Joe Iconis’ Love in Hate Nation, which was commissioned by Penn State Musical Theatre as part of its New Musicals Initiative.

His recent new musical credits include the World Premiere of Legendale (music by Andrea Daly, words by Jeff Bienstock) at Fredericia Teater in Denmark and the subsequent American Premiere at Human Race Theatre Company. Recent new plays include the World Premieres of Raging Skillet (by Jacques Lamarre) at Theaterworks Hartford, The Bus (by Jim Lantz) at 59E59 Theaters and For Better, For Worse (by Reed Arnold). Regionally, he has directed at Sacramento Music Circus, Lyric Theatre Oklahoma, North Carolina Theatre, the Engeman Theatre, and Sharon Playhouse (where he also served as Artistic Director).

John Simpkins

News from A&A

One Night on Broadway returns to Centre Stage

Penn State Centre Stage Broadway alumni will return home for "One Night on Broadway," a special event, Monday, May 16, at the Penn State Downtown Theatre.

Penn State Centre Stage Broadway alumni will return home for "One Night on Broadway," a special event, Monday, May 16, at the Penn State Downtown Theatre. The evening will include


Read More

New musical highlights the ‘80s in a modern-day look at issues confronting young adults

Penn State Centre Stage is readying for the debut of “Nostalgia Night,” February 8-19 at the Pavilion Theatre. The piece was written as part of the New Musicals Initiative.
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Theatre alum is first person of color to lead American Shakespeare Center

Penn State Theatre alumnus Brandon Carter (’14 M.F.A.) is the first person of color to lead American Shakespeare Center (ASC).
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