Taking Center Stage
The Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University is expanding, thanks to a very generous gift.
Philanthropist and Broadway producer G. Marlyne Sexton has donated $15 million to create a specialization in musical theater.
Sexton's gift funds both the new G. Marlyne Sexton Institute for Musical Theatre and the G. Marlyne Sexton Director of Musical Theatre – plus operating funds to begin during the 2023-24 school year.
“Marlyne Sexton’s gift builds on the strong Meadows School of the Arts programs in theater, music and dance,” says SMU president R. Gerald Turner. “It also augments the arts scene in Dallas, inspiring artistic expression and adding to SMU Meadows’ status as a premier artistic and cultural institution.”
Joel Ferrell, the previous associate artistic director at Dallas Theater Center, has been announced as the inaugural director of this new institute.
“SMU Meadows produces some of the best professional artists in the world, and I am proud to support this addition to the school’s repertoire,” says Sexton. “As they entertain, I hope students of musical theater will develop their abilities to inspire us and build our capacity to empathize for others.”
Musical theatre students enrolled in the program will participate in "cutting-edge productions and gain valuable training and expertise from internationally recognized faculty and performers."
Students will be able to obtain an BFA in theater with a specialization in musical theater, in addition to existing concentrations in acting and theater studies.
“For many years, prospective students have told us they are looking for musical theater training like this,” says Samuel S. Holland, Algur H. Meadows Dean of the Meadows School. “Marlyne Sexton’s gift will help SMU attract artistic and talented performers, and help us achieve our goal of becoming nationally competitive in this discipline within five years of launching the program.”
Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Sexton is a dedicated supporter and parent of two SMU alumnae, Nicole Sexton ’87 and Tracy Copeland ’82. She has also been involved in producing and funding Broadway productions in New York and London.
Previously, as part of the enhanced SMU Meadows facilities for the visual arts, Sexton and her family made a gift to establish the Sexton Family Courtyard, the renovated west entrance to the arts building; the Sexton Family Art Studio and Terrace, an expansive indoor-outdoor space; and the Sexton Family Suite for Creative Computation as part of school’s enhanced facilities for the visual arts.