Triple-threat students

Actors who can sing have an advantage. Actors who can sing and dance might be Broadway bound.

As construction of the River Campus School for the Visual and Performing Arts progresses, Southeast Missouri State University has added a musical theater option to its bachelor of fine arts in performing arts degree. The option, available beginning with current freshmen at the university, means the student will receive one-third of his or her instruction in dance, one-third in acting and one-third in music.

At most universities, musical theater students tend to concentrate on one of the three.

Eighty students are currently pursuing majors within Southeast's Department of Theatre and Dance compared to just 17 three years ago. Faculty dance positions have been added, and heralded voice coach Judith Farris is helping train the singers. The Department of Music also is now more involved in schooling the theater and dance majors.

Completion of the River Campus performance hall is scheduled for fall 2007. The university is pointing toward attracting and training students who can fill the hall with musical theater productions.