Music Theatre at ESA


ESA’S Music Theatre program is the only kind of interdisciplinary program in the TDSB, which integrates Vocal, Theory, Drama, Dance and Technical Theatre to train and develop the student as a ‘triple threat’ performer. We offer Music Theatre majors a rigorous four-year sequenced based training program that is grounded in a solid technique and imparted in an atmosphere of curiosity and creativity. Our dedicated faculty instills professional standards of discipline, quality and ethics by artfully blending the teaching of traditional skills with the newest advances in training and technology. Courses in acting, voice and various vocal styles (Broadway, Gilbert & Sullivan, Jazz, Opera, Traditional Choral), theory, speech, movement, dance and theatre history are integral parts of the double-credit Musical theatre program. Distinguished Alumni and professional guests regularly visit the school to speak, advise and teach master classes to our students. Each year, professional guests help the students build the technical elements for our musical, including Costumes, Sets, Props, Sound, Lights and Stage Management. You will gain academic and theoretical knowledge of the performing arts and receive concentrated training in these disciplines. You also will develop a special understanding of your relationships with other members of society through your performance experiences. All students must demonstrate a continued openness and commitment to the training, show progress in their work in developing knowledge of their craft, and a respect for professional standards and collaboration.

If you would like more information about the Music Theatre Department see the ESA_Music-Theatre_Brochure.

Musical Theatre Master Class with Gavin Creel (Tony Award nominated star of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hair, Mary Poppins) and his writing partner Robbie Roth (Flashdance, The Musical)

See the Music Theatre channel on YouTube.

Course Descriptions

The courses in this section have been developed:

  • to give students who demonstrate aptitude in dance, drama, film, music, music theatre or the visual arts an opportunity to develop such talent as part of their education
  • to equip students to evaluate and handle the fundamental discipline in their elected arts field
  • to develop in artistically-inclined students the ability to understand and use their arts specialty as a living language
  • to prepare students for continued study in the arts at the post-secondary level
  • to help students develop the necessary skills to become proficient performers and artists

This course explores the movement and dramatic aspects of music theatre.  The course will include an introduction to dramatic and dance technique where students will construct, discuss, perform and analyze those art forms.  Opportunities will be available to attend live performances of student recitals and/or professional productions, examine films and participate in workshops.  The culminating activity will consist of the student’s participation in the department’s Spring Showcase and learning/participating in technical aspects of performance production (advertising/promotion, sets, props, costume construction, stage management).

This course accommodates students at various performing levels who wish to gain proficiency in the three essential components of music theatre: voice, dance and acting.  Voice topics follow the creation, theory and analysis strands in the Ministry document and include sound production, breathing, diction, range, intonation, projection, interpretation, ear training and sight-singing.  Theory instruction accommodates students at various levels and involves learning the symbols, concepts and conventions used in music as they apply to vocal music.  Students will perform choral music from various cultures and create music theatre pieces culminating in a public performance.  Students can audition for choirs and ensembles and participate in the co-curricular ensemble Lunch Bunch.

Music Theatre Elective allows students to experience a multi-faceted class of singing, acting and dancing.

Students will develop their singing techniques through small and large ensembles as well as solo performances. Drama techniques will be explored through games, improvisation, open scripts, monologues and/or scenes.  Students will develop their dance techniques from basic choreography to more complex group compositions.  At the end of this course, students will  perform a variety of Broadway pieces in Cabaret style.

This course continues the exploration of the movement and dramatic aspects of music theatre.  The course will build on the skills regarding dramatic and dance technique learned in ADB 1O1.  The culminating activity will consist of the student’s participation in the department’s Spring Showcase and learning/participating in technical aspects of performance production (advertising/promotion, sets, props, costume construction, stage management). Focus will be on acting the song, scene analysis and presentation.

This course continues to build on the skills developed in AMV 1O1.  Following Ministry guidelines to encompass the three-area theory, creation and analysis, students will study the elements of music, demonstrate the principles of proper vocal training and focus creatively on music creation.  Students will participate in choirs and ensembles.

This course continues the personal performance development of the student.  The course will build on the skills regarding dramatic and dance technique learned in ADB201, including Laban movement for actors, monologue and scene study units, and character analysis.  The culminating activity will be threefold and will consist of the student’s participation/performance in the department’s Musical Showcase (including learning about the technical aspects of theatre -advertising/promotion, set, prop costume construction and stage management), dramatic presentation and dance exam.

By the end of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to notate rhythmic patterns, melodies and chords accurately.  This course emphasizes the appreciation, analysis and performance of music theatre repertoire.  Students will perform technical exercises, complete detailed creative activities, and analyze and evaluate live and recorded performances.  They will continue to increase their understanding of the elements of music while developing their technical and imaginative abilities.   Students will participate in choirs, ensembles and will perform in the culminating spring showcase in our theatre.

This senior level elective course explores vocal and choral technique through individual study and ensemble singing.  Pre-requisite:  AMV2O1 or AMU2O1, or by permission of department.

This course synthesizes the skills in drama and dance as they apply to music theatre for the student.  The course will build on the skills regarding dramatic and dance techniques learned in ADB 3M1 and use Laban Movement for actors to build on character development.   The culminating activity will be threefold, consisting of the student’s participation/performance in the department’s Musical Showcase  (including learning about the technical aspects of theatre -advertising/promotion, set, prop costume construction and stage management), small ensemble performance in the graduation cabaret showcase, and a final dance exam.

AMV 4M1               VOICE – MUSIC THEATRE IV
This course explores aspects of vocal production, including sight-reading, analyzing musical material, tone and vocal quality.  Students will also receive instruction on selection and interpretation of selected musical material.  Students will perform ensemble and solo repertoires.  Learning strategies include attending live performances, examining films and participation in master classes.  Students will participate in choirs, ensembles, and perform in the departments spring showcase.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I choose my songs for my audition?
You should choose songs that fit your vocal range (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), to show off your voice. You should also choose one theatrical fast-paced song and one ballad (a slower song). Try to choose a song that you don’t think other people will sing. Please choose Broadway songs. Google: Broadway Songs for Teens. Purchase online Broadway songs at Research the musical at

How should I present myself in my audition?
It is best to come across as a professional, so come into the room with confidence, and be prepared. Show the teachers evaluating that you are flexible in what you do, and that you care about your work in music theatre. As far as your performance, pick a spot in the back of the room where you can focus your eyes the whole time you sing.  Research the plot of the musical and try to learn as much as you can about the character singing the song.  Why are you singing the song?  Who are you singing to?  What does your character want?

Will I have a piano accompianist provided?
Yes, there will be an accompanist provided.  Please talk to him/her briefly before about the tempo and any changes you’ve made to your music.  Make sure it is in the correct key and is copied back to back in a binder.

How do I know if it is the correct key?
You should get a music teacher at your school to play some of the music on the piano, and perhaps compare the key to a recording you may be singing along to.  Often, they are not in the same key. will transpose your song.

What should I wear to my audition?
Wear something that you feel comfortable in and looks respectable.  For the Dance part of the audition, you should wear clothes that allow you to move freely…such as dance pants, sweat pants, shorts, tank top, body suit, jazz shoes or bare feet.  Material made with spandex/lycra is great, as it will best show your body lines in dance.

How do we prepare for our dance audition?
You will be led through a group physical warm-up and taught a dance routine in a large group of students.  After many times going over this routine and opportunities to ask questions, you will be evaluated in small groups.  We will be looking for stage presence, and your ability to pick up the steps, as well as previous technique.  It may be a good idea to take movement class before the audition, so you are familiar with basic steps.   Classes in the GTA can be found by a Google search of Toronto Jazz Dance Schools.

What questions will they ask me in my audition?
The teachers evaluating you will most likely ask you about your music theatre background, general questions to help put you at ease, and why you are interested in the school.  PLEASE PRESENT YOUR PHOTO TO THE PANEL WHEN YOU ENTER THE AUDITION ROOM.

Will I have to sing both of my songs?
Because of the amount of students auditioning, you may be cut off in the middle of one song, and asked to present the second selection.  Please don’t take it personally.  We will want to hear parts of both songs.  Rehearse your songs in front of as many people as you can.  Songs should be memorized, and make sure you arrive early so that you can warm up your voice.

Do we have to have a vocal coach?
It is recommended that you have a vocal teacher that can help you prepare for your audition and for the music theatre program at ESA.  This is not required, but a teacher will help you present the best possible audition.  Perhaps your music teacher at school can help prepare you. You can also contact the Music Theatre department for our list of recommended vocal coaches in the GTA.

How does the theory/sight-singing audition work? How should I prepare?
You will be asked to do some theory exercises (including sight-singing, clapping rhythms, and singing back melodies played for you). This helps us evaluate your sense of pitch, ability to hold a harmony, and sense of musicality.  Your school teacher/private teacher can help you practice basic exercises.

Do I have to prepare a monologue?
Only if you are auditioning for grades 10-12 Music Theatre.  Your ability to act will be evaluated in the presentation of the two songs.  We are looking for your ability to connect to the character and story.  Gestures in songs should come naturally from the heart.  Try not to plan too much movement/actions in your song.  We really want to hear you sing – not hear you ‘act’.  Watch excellent performers in theatre.   For examples on presentational style, search Youtube for great singers who are singing your song.  Search “ My Favorite Broadway:  The Leading Ladies” for an example of great Broadway Divas.  You will most likely find several recordings of pros & amateurs performing your song on Youtube, as well as clips from the Broadway production of the musical.

How do the theory requirements differ for students auditioning from grades 9, 10 and 11?
If you are hoping to enter our program for Grade 10, you will need proof that you have completed the requirements for the Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 1 Theory exam.  For Grade 11 and 12, you will need to have completed Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 2 Theory.