Next Step Prep – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did MCT create Next Step Prep?
A lack of access to high-quality training at the high school level is common across the country. 70% of the towns MCT visits for our week-long residencies are rural and oftentimes have very limited arts programs. Even larger schools have faced tough budget issues, and, sadly, performing arts programs are the first to be cut or were never developed in the first place. For students who live and breathe music, theatre, and dance, this inaccessibility to what they love is devastating. MCT residencies and MCT summer camps provide endless demonstrations that these students clearly have raw talent, but the students are so far behind in formal training that their potential for admission to musical theatre programs at major universities is practically nonexistent. That isn’t fair. And that is one of the important elements of why MCT developed Next Step Prep—to empower the small-town or geographically isolated students to compete with students from larger, more equipped schools or areas of the country. Next Step Prep, The Academy for Musical Theatre, is designed to prepare students to thrive in the next phase of their education in any university or conservatory setting of their choice.
I don’t have a lot of training – do I need more training before I can go to Next Step Prep?
The fact that you may not have a lot of training should not hold you back from attending Next Step Prep. On the contrary, it would be an excellent training ground for you. Next Step was especially created for kids who don’t have access to advanced fine arts training in their hometown—and to give them a chance to work with guest artists that they might never have had the chance to work with. The desire to learn more and improve your skills makes you perfect for this program. We offer several levels of classes in acting, singing, and dancing. That way, the beginning dancer, actor, or singer isn’t lost in a room full of experienced young performers, and experienced performers will be challenged to stretch their abilities. When the Next Step kids arrive in Missoula, they will audition and be placed in classes according to their level of ability.
I have quite a bit of experience in acting, but I’m not as confident in my singing or dancing. Could Next Step Prep help me?
Yes. The training at Next Step Prep is “triple threat training.” In theatre, a triple threat is a performer who excels in singing, dancing, and acting. As a Next Step student, you would be placed in acting, singing, and dancing classes according to the level of your ability. Every day, you would train in these three areas to improve your skills; these core classes are taught by certified instructors. Audition techniques and specialty workshops taught by guest artists round out your training. After six weeks of this hands-on education, your skills will be sharper, broader, and you will have much more confidence in ALL of your skills.
What’s the schedule like at the Next Step Prep summer session?
The day Monday-Friday begins at 9:00 am. Students have daily acting, singing, and dancing classes. Each class is two hours long and is taught and monitored by a certified teacher. With lots of individualized attention, these are the core classes where basic technique is taught and individual skills really grow and flourish. Tuesday and Thursday evenings are lab or workshop sessions. Depending on the week, different guest artists will teach during these class sessions. Wednesday evenings are movie nights—these are more casual session intended to expand each student’s knowledge of musical theatre. Material presented during movie night will be cited and used in classroom work. Saturdays will be the chance for students to experience a little more of beautiful Montana. Sundays are a day of rest.
Is there a show at the end of the Next Step Prep summer session?
There is not a specific show at the end of the Next Step Prep summer session because preparing you for one role in one show is not what Next Step is about – it’s about preparing you for the many roles you will audition for and play throughout the rest of your life. However, there is a showcase in the sixth week wherein you will be able to display your new-found skills. There are also a few other performance opportunities throughout the session.
How old must I be to attend Next Step Prep?
Next Step Prep is open to students entering grades 9-12 and for high school graduates who are seeking master class training.
Can I earn classroom credits?
Next Step Prep is accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission, a division of Advanced ED. Next Step Summer Session students will earn three high school semester credits (1.5 full year credits) upon completion of the six week program.
Why should I choose Next Step Prep over another training program?
Next Step Prep was created and developed by the Missoula Children’s Theatre—which has 40 years of experience developing life skills in children through participation in the performing arts. “Miraculous,” “practical,” “amazing,” “unbelievable,” “life-changing”—so many adjectives have been used to describe the work MCT does every day. Next Step Prep is indeed the next step for MCT—working with kids who wish to pursue the performing arts beyond an MCT residency week. Next Step students train in a safe, nurturing environment at MCT’s state of the art building in beautiful Missoula, Montana. Next Step Prep students receive world class training in a small town environment.
What’s the difference between MCT’s Next Step Prep and MCT’s Performing Arts Camps (PAC)?

Next Step Prep and PAC are both wonderful, caring, fun environments that help kids form life-long friendships with other kids who love performing and are great summer choices for kids interested in theatre– but they are programs with completely different goals.

PAC involves auditioning, rehearsing, and then performing in a specific ensemble show over a two-week period; Next Step Prep’s goal is to develop and hone the acting, singing, dancing, and auditioning skills of each individual student over the course of six weeks. PAC is a camp environment; Next Step Prep is a classroom and studio environment. Approximately 200 young performers annually participate in PAC’s North Shore and South Shore Camps; currently Next Step Prep will train a maximum of 60 students per session.

Can I do both PAC and Next Step Prep?
If you are accepted into both programs, you certainly can do both. PAC begins immediately after Next Step finishes.
If I am accepted into Next Step Prep, do I need to prepare anything?
You need to prepare a 1 minute memorized monologue and a memorized musical theatre song—both should be age-appropriate. You will perform these pieces the first day and Next Step will use these to place you into a suitable level of your acting, singing, and dancing classes. Your prepared pieces will also be used as a base for classroom work. Aside from classroom preparation, Next Step Prep students will also need to have a physical exam prior to the first day of classes.