Improvisation in Musical Theatre

Created by Annie Dragoo

Understanding basic improvisation skills will help musical theatre performers understand that musical theatre is more than just singing and dancing. It’s about using all the tools (voice, body, and mind) an actor has at their disposal to create a character.

This unit focuses more on the improv aspect rather than the musical theatre aspects - in fact students need no prior musical theatre knowledge. Annie Dragoo, creator of the unit, uses this material as her first unit in her musical theatre class. It’s a great introduction and will get your students in the right frame of mind to approach musical theatre.

The lessons explore a variety of improv skills such as vocal responses, movement, character study, sensory awareness and culminate in an improv scene and unit essay.

The overview lays out the lessons and descriptions for each for the unit.
1: Intro to Improv for Musical Theatre
Students will demonstrate an understanding of improv guidelines by using them in an exercise. This is an introductory improv lesson that is designed to build upon the actors’ tools in future lessons.
2: Improv with Vocal Responses
Students will demonstrate ability to respond vocally by participating in various improvisation activities.
3: Improv with Movement
Students will demonstrate ability to improvise movement by participating in a various activities.
4: Improv for Character Study
Students will demonstrate ability to develop a character by participating in various improvisation exercises.
5: Improv Using Sensory Awareness
Students will demonstrate sensory awareness by improvising an everyday activity while paying attention to as many sensory details as possible.
6: Improvisation Scenes
Students will demonstrate ability to use voice, body, and imagination/mind together by planning and performing an improvised scene.
7: Unit Reflection (Essay)
Students will evaluate the value of improvisation in musical theatre by writing a five-paragraph essay.

Standards Addressed

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