Where to start if you want to study the performing arts.

Some of the coolest cold emails I get are from high school students all over the country, asking me for advice on where to go and what to study in college if they want to work on Broadway someday.

I pitch my alma mater first (duh) and then some of my other faves . . . and then spit out my usual advice of trying to be close to the city if you can, because getting acclimated to the business and NYC-life while you’re still under the umbrella of an institution is what gave me a head start over my not-so-local peers.

But I always wished I could point the students (or their parents) to some kind of online directory that could help guide them through what I know is a difficult (and expensive) process.

And then poof . . . like magic . . . here comes Playbill with PlaybillEdu.com.

Playbill has been expanding faster than a cronut-eater these days, having already given us PlaybillPro, PlaybillVIP and my fave, PlaybillVault.com in the last two years.

But PlaybillEdu may not only get them the most page views of them all, it could also be their most significant contribution to the theatre since they first introduced their program in the early 1900s.

By providing students, parents and college counselors a one stop shop to get all the info they need to find the right college for their future actor/writer/producer, they are helping to funnel more people into our business.  And more people, means more talent.  And more talent means better shows, which means happier audiences, which means the theater’s future is safe and sound.

Check it out here, and spread the word.  I’m sure you know someone thinking about a career in the biz.  And look, working on Broadway is hard enough.   There’s no reason why selecting a training program should be harder.


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  • Caitlin says:

    I think this Playbill site in particular would benefit from reader-generated content like a message board or alumni reviews. As far as I know, none of the PB sites have anything like this, so it may not be in the cards.

  • Phil Birsh says:

    Thank you for you kind words. We have worked on this project for three years. We believe our future Broadway colleagues deserve the best information for the sake of their careers and dreams. Choosing a college is the biggest and most expensive decision of their young lives. Its critical their have all the facts available. Good luck to all our future talent! Phil Birsh, President, Playbill Inc. New York City.

  • Audra says:

    Should I stay at my college, Mount Holyoke where I will be a rising sophomore? Or should I transfer to Marymount Manhattan for a Theatre Arts major and a Musical Theatre minor for this upcoming fall(I have already been accepted). I love Mount Holyoke and I always will with all my heart but the theatre and music programs are ok. I wouldn’t even know how to judge them. There were 2 vocal music majors in the 2013 graduating class. The theatre department is small too. But we do have access to the theatre departments of Amherst College, UMASS, Hampshire College, and Smith College. Marymount Manhattan would cost me nearly twice the amount of Mount Holyoke (mhc is rather generous with aid). However, Marymount would give me a more specialized training in musical theatre and a network. I do live in the NYC area so I have been able to use my summer for networking. So far I have had 3 internships in film/theatre and a job in telefundraising this summer alone. So I’m really trying to get a foundation. I even have internship offers for next summer. I guess my dilemma lies in the fact that I love Mount Holyoke because I am comfortable there. I’ve grown to love the scenery, the classroom setting, and the all women’s environment. I couldn’t ask for a better first year experience. In regards to Marymount, it’s the money, the opportunities/access in NYC, and the focused training. Thank you for reading this! This has been my internal struggle all summer long. It’s most likely a trivial part of my life but it feels colossal. Have a lovely evening all!

    • Ben says:

      Stay. The last thing you want as an actor is more debt. Remember that there are plenty of working theatre artists and celebrities who made it in the biz without a college degree at all.

  • Becca S says:

    Let me preface this by saying that I grew up in NYC, and that may skew my opinions:

    I’m really excited about the emergence of playbillEDU, because as Ken said it will make a lot of information about where to do ones theatre training a lot easier to find. I don’t agree, however, with Ken’s advice to be as close to NYC as possible necessarily. I currently attend Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA, and being away from the city has been quite a relief for me. I am still in a vibrant arts community with a top-tier training program, but without the stress that come from living in the biggest city of all. It’s within reach of New York, but doesn’t spit you out right at the end. I’m a big believer in making your way there, and that can be hard to do if you start at the end of the road. Just some food for thought.

    Oh, and I’d be happy to answer any questions about CMU!

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