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New degree plan gives theater students more options

The theater department is offering a new Associate of Arts degree in musical theater for the first time in the school’s history. This new degree program is one of the only degrees of its kind offered in the area.

“We’ve always felt the need for a musical theater program here at TJC. We have always had so many talented kids that wanted to go on to pursue musical theater at a higher level,” Becky Faulds, who has instructed speech and theater at TJC for 19 years, said. “It is important for the students to be able to take with them a better-rounded portfolio of training. That includes acting, dancing and singing: the triple threat.”

The idea of offering this degree is not a new idea in the department. The faculty in the department had been talking about implementing the program for several years.

“It had been lying in a dormant state. We dusted it off and presented it to the dean,” Dr. David Crawford, theater instructor and former chair of the Speech and Theater department said.

To come up with a degree plan, the faculty looked at the course requirements for the musical theater programs at other junior colleges and four-year institutions in neighboring areas, including Oklahoma, Louisiana and the rest of Texas. The result was a combination of music, theater and dance classes, in addition to the required coursework for an Associate of Arts degree at TJC.

“This will prepare them to transfer seamlessly with junior status to a senior institution, and eliminate the need to take extra coursework,” Crawford said.

With the new program comes new opportunities for musical theater majors to gain experience and perform. This year the department will produce two musicals instead of just one as in the past. “The Fantasticks” will be performed as a second-stage show in the fall, and “Annie Get Your Gun” as a main-stage production in the spring.

“If you offer a musical theater program, you better put on some musicals. The kids want to come perform, not just take courses,” Crawford said.

Since the decision to implement the new program was announced last spring, there has been a lot of interest and enthusiasm. So far approximately 12 students have declared musical theater as their major, and Dr. Crawford predicts these numbers will easily double or even triple in years to come.

“It’s exciting because we’re getting students we would have missed out on had they not decided on TJC because of the musical theater program. It’s a good asset for the school and the department.”

Freshman Courtney Lux is one of the students to christen the new program, and is the recipient of the scholarship set aside for a musical theater major.

“I’m loving the program. All my classes are great and it’s a good balance between music and theater courses,” Lux said. “This program is much smaller than the ones at most universities which will give me more opportunities for experience and less competition for stage time. Hopefully that will give me a leg up when I transfer to a four-year school. My dream is to be on Broadway someday.”

For more information on the Associate of Arts in Musical Theater, contact Dr. David Crawford at (903) 510-2678.

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