Musical Theatre Alliance: Professional training with the nation’s largest dinner theatre

Finding your college fit isn’t always easy. You might be concerned with class size, campus setting, performance opportunities, and, of course, cost. However, one criterion you may have overlooked is professional experience. If you’re interested in what opportunities are available for theatre students, look no further.  The University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (CDT) have created a spectacular opportunity for theatre students through a musical theatre alliance.

The beginning of a beautiful friendship

Michael Brindisi

Michael Brindisi via Theatre People

UMD is known for producing nationally acclaimed theatrical productions. CDT is the nation’s largest professional dinner theatre company. It is also Minnesota’s only year-round, fully-professional producing theatre company.

It would only make sense for the two to form “The Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and the UMD Department of Theatre Educational and Professional Alliance.” Which, CDT’s Resident Artistic Director and President Michael Brindisi said, “Made good sense. CDT is a preeminent musical theatre producer here in the Twin Cities and UMD is known for its musical theatre excellence.”

This joint venture was created with the mission to help UMD students find employment in the world of theatre. According to Brindisi, “The ultimate goal of the Alliance is to provide professional, real life opportunities for UMD students to experience working (as a professional) in this industry.”

Musical Theatre Alliance: Preserving the future

You have probably heard that the transition from academia to the professional world can be difficult. And you may know that you need more than an academic background for your resume. Both UMD and CDT have recognized that students of higher education need help transitioning from academia to the professional world. Brindisi’s hope for this alliance, “we will continue to work collaboratively to hone skills and shape the next generation of musical theatre artists.”

Brindisi believes that the students he works with will be seen working on his stages and beyond. “These students are that gifted next generation.” And he doesn’t discount the amazing training they receive from UMD. “Along with the incredible instruction of the UMD professors, we are also very honored to be part of this process, to build upon what the students learn in the classroom setting, and to refine and inspire students to an even higher degree.”

Internships. And fellowships. And more… Oh my!

Internships, apprenticeships, mentorships, fellowships, scholarships and professional employment are available for UMD Theatre students in all disciplines through this unique Musical Theatre Alliance. “We are excited to be part of that process as students launch into the musical theatre world,” said Brindisi.

Musical Theatre Alliance - ChanhassenBesides being a huge force in the theatre world, CDT has the assets to build upon the strong foundation students receive at UMD. CDT has both scenic and costume shops on site, all design elements are created and executed by CDT’s resident artistic design and technical staff. “Our designers and directors, make visits to UMD to conduct artistic design and auditioning workshops and more,” Brindisi said. “All of these things give students the chance to learn from those working in the field and offer artistic critiques beyond what the student might receive from their academic community. It’s an authentic, legitimate experience that a student wouldn’t otherwise have access to.”

In addition, entry-level employment opportunities following degree completion are possible. In an interview in 2012 Brindisi shared the history of employing UMD graduates. “We’ve hired several graduates of the distinguished UMD Theatre Department, students who have since gone on to join the ranks of Actors’ Equity, the esteemed professional actors’ union to which we belong.”  Also, coming out of this alliance, is an annual scholarship which is awarded annually to a UMD theatre student.

To learn more about The University of Minnesota Duluth visit them on Acceptd here.

Click below to hear some recent student cast interviews.


About Sheena Nyros

Sheena Nyros is a social contributor for Acceptd where she enjoys advocating for artists. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Popular Culture and Entertainment Communication from The Ohio State University and a Master of Arts in Computer-Mediated-Communication from Michigan State University.