Performance Opportunities at PennWest California

Step into the spotlight

Visit Steele Hall, and you’ll discover that theater majors aren’t the only ones onstage or behind the scenes. Within the four years that it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree, PennWest California students in any major can experience more than 20 theater productions on our two on-campus stages, either as a direct participant, a volunteer or an observer.

Students with a love of music spend plenty of time in the rehearsal spaces and classrooms in Gallagher Hall. But you also find them performing on the football field with the PennWest California Marching Band, playing onstage with the concert band or jazz ensemble, or singing in one of the University’s six choirs and a cappella groups.

Why get involved with performing arts? If you’ve chosen a theater major, commercial music technology major or music minor, these activities may be part of your academic program. But the teamwork, time management and group learning involved in performing arts fosters an intuitive sense of “how things get done” that easily translates to any mission, job assignment or career. 

Performing together also builds a sense of community and puts you in touch with other students who share your passion for theater, musical theater, dance or music.

Practical experience for theater majors

As part of our well-rounded curriculum, every PennWest California theater major is required to take practicum credits, which give students performance opportunities and practical experience in various areas of production including:

  • Technical theater production.
  • Dance.
  • Acting.
  • Theater design.
  • Management
  • Directing.
  • Technical theater direction.
  • Touring theater.
  • Summer theater.

PennWest California’s theater department also rewards creative excellence by offering opportunities for juniors and seniors to produce shows, choreograph pieces and direct or design both major productions and one-act performances. Upon graduation, PennWest California theater majors are well prepared for a broad range of theater careers.  

Performance opportunities for musicians

Six University choirs provide a variety of performance options for singers, while instrumentalists may perform in the marching band, concert band or various ensembles. All students, including those who are concentrating in musical theater or who chose to add a music minor to their degree, can take advantage of PennWest California’s many bands and choirs.

Some vocal and instrumental groups are open by audition only, while others welcome all interested students. Whatever your performance interests, these musical groups allow you to hone your talents, cultivate creativity, perform for audiences on and off campus, and find friends who share your passion for music. Who knows? You may meet like-minded students and start a band of your own!

Join a club … and take a bow

Many student-run clubs and organizations focus on theater, dance and music. You can get involved – and see what individual clubs are all about – at OrgSync, the online home of PennWest California’s 100+ student clubs and organizations.

These PennWest California student clubs offer opportunities to shine backstage or in the spotlight:

University Players: This student organization is at the core of PennWest California’s theater program. It is responsible for producing most on-campus productions. Theater performances include An Evening of Creativity, a show for first-year students, and a robust calendar of productions at PennWest California’s Blaney Theatre and Steele Hall Mainstage Theater throughout the year.

The Underground: This student-run performance and event series gives you the opportunity to participate in open mic nights, musical gigs, special performances and more.

Marching band: PennWest California's marching band is one of the largest performance organizations on campus. Each fall, the marching band rocks the crowd at the Vulcans’ home football games, selected away games, and at college marching band festivals throughout Pennsylvania and beyond.

Concert band: This band plays all types of music, from classical to modern and from serious to humorous. Concert band performances take place at convocations and various concerts on and off campus, at times sharing the stage with other university concert bands or adult community bands. 

Jazz ensemble: Students may audition for PennWest California’s jazz ensemble, a musical group that performs all styles of jazz, including funk, rock, swing, blues and Latin. The jazz ensemble has performances both on and off campus, is featured at numerous high school all-school assemblies and jazz band festivals, and is highlighted in the yearly California Jazz Experience. PennWest California’s jazz ensemble has performed with legendary jazz artists such as Mike Tomaro, Randy Purcell, Steve Hawk, Chris Vadala, Jeff Hellmer, Jim Sheppard, Lou Fischer, Curtis Johnson and Ralph Guzzi.

University Choir: The University Choir provides performance opportunities for PennWest California students to sing a wide variety of music from both the contemporary and traditional repertoire. The choir has given performances at the White House, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the U.S. Navy Memorial, Walt Disney World and New York City's South Street Seaport, as well as in Nashville, Tenn.

A cappella groups: You don’t need instruments to make music at PennWest California. The men of Vulcanize, the women of Acapella Stella and the co-ed singers of Isolated Incident perform a cappella— without instrumental accompaniment. Beatboxing is optional!

Young and Gifted Gospel Choir: PennWest California's gospel choir is open to all men and women. It focuses on instilling an awareness of poetry and drama through gospel music. Gospel choir participants perform on campus and throughout Pennsylvania. The choir’s annual Joyfest concert is an opportunity to learn from and perform with a national recording artist.

Are you ready to step onto the stage? Apply to PennWest California today! 

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