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BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course preparation

To help you feel prepared for your BA (Hons) Musical Theatre studies, we’ve gathered together a range of course related activities including suggested reading, useful websites and some great things to do right now. Read on to find out more.

Suggested reading

You will be given lots of information about which textbooks to read and introduced to the University Library, as well as the many eBooks we have for you to access, when you begin your studies in September.

In the meantime, there are a few suggested books you might like to read before starting your degree if you can. We don’t recommend rushing out to buy texts before you arrive. But if you can, try to pick some up second hand, borrow from a library, or access online to read over the summer. It is not necessary to have read everything from cover to cover before you start, but you should definitely begin to engage with the content before your course begins.

  • COPUS, J. 2009. Brilliant Writing Tips for Students. Pocket Study Skills. London. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • DAY, T. (2018) Success in Academic Writing. London Palgrave
  • KENRICK, J. (2017) Musical Theatre: A History. 2nd edition. London and New York: Bloomsbury
  • TAYLOR, M. & SYMONDS, D. (2014) Studying Musical Theatre. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • WOOLFORD, J. (2012) How Musicals Work and how to write your own. London: Nick Hern

Suggested materials and clothing

Please bring a pen and notepad with you and a good diary and planner would be a very sensible purchase as well; the one we recommend is The Palgrave Student Planner by Stella Cottrell.

Practical Clothing

In your studio practice sessions, it’s vital that you can move safely, without restriction, and that your tutor can see your body in order to correct alignment and placement. Therefore, we ask that you come prepared with the following kit:

  • Black sport leggings, or three-quarter length shorts or close-fitting dance trousers
  • Close-fitting vest top or t-shirt
  • Correct supportive underwear.
  • Jogging bottoms and top for warm-up activities (or you can wear dance leggings)
  • Soft knee pads (can get these later)
  • A good pair of running/aerobic trainers (optional)
  • Hair ties for long hair

You must be prepared to work practically in all sessions, as all modules are a balance of theory and practice.

Useful websites

  • BBC Arts has a range of resources available including masterclasses from designers, the BBC Lockdown orchestra, Dance works like Spaghetti Junction and Michael Clarke’s Triptych and theatre from the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Globe and the National Theatre. You can find details on the website.
  • Explore more productions streaming online for free at
  • If you’re thinking about the future and careers in the performing arts visit the prospects website.

Watch live performances

We expect you to see as much live performance work as you can throughout your degree programme, so make sure you budget for visits to the theatre to see work, or to watch it online whenever there is the opportunity to do so. You will be able to access a range of American Musicals online via Box of Broadcasts once you are enrolled on your course. These are all free to view. Why not make a watch party once a week?

Try and see some productions in the summer before you start your course – there are some great productions available online. Maintaining a personal journal about the work you watch can be a useful resource in preparing for seminar presentations, essays, portfolios, and other assignments. Whilst at Edge Hill you will have the advantage of being able to see professional touring performance work at The Arts Centre, our on-campus professional venue. Edge Hill University Students can sign up to The Arts Centre’s free membership scheme.

While not a compulsory part of the course, it can be useful to have some basic knowledge of musical notation. If you feel this is an area you would like to explore, check out the theory lessons on

Practical tasks for summer

Take the opportunity to watch performances, listen to songs, read plays, take online/ live dance classes and immerse yourself in musical theatre from the comfort of your own home. Take inspiration from actors, musical directors, choreographers, and theatre directors for your future performances as well as to enhance your understanding of musical theatre.

When you are watching, think about some of these questions:

  1. What do you like about the show?
  2. What do you think is less effective?
  3. How do the actors communicate with the audience?
  4. As a creative team what choices do you think the Director, Musical Director and Choreographer have made to realise their vision?
  5. What design elements have been introduced to support the production?

Reading Play-Texts

Reading plays and reading about theatre is also really important for the study of Musical Theatre. Try to read as many play-texts as you can from as many different historical periods as this will help you to get a sense of how theatre works. For many years Shakespeare has been used by actors to really hone their skills as performers. Why not read learn a speech from one of his plays?

Theatre making skills

If you have some free time why not explore some theatre-making skills?

  • Write a new song
  • Learn a speech from a play or a new song from a musical
  • Create a singing group or sing together with your friends via an online conferencing app
  • Experiment with some static, gestural choreography
  • Create a model box of a set for your own staging or your favourite show

Meet your programme leader: