Announcing John Simpkins 

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New Artistic Director for ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater

We’re thrilled to welcome John Simpkins as our new Artistic Director of ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater! John is Head of Musical Theater at Penn State University and has been a devoted faculty member at ArtsBridge for many years. We look forward to beginning this next chapter with John and know his expertise and passion will benefit every student to come through the program.


A Message from John

I am excited to write to you as the new Artistic Director of ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater. It has been my honor to teach for ArtsBridge for the past six summers and see the incredible young people that come through this program. They are wonderful artists-in-training and I have seen the power of the ArtsBridge philosophy help prepare them for success in their college audition process and beyond.

I want to offer my thanks to Gary Kline, who has led this program for many years. I look forward to continuing to build on the strengths he helped to build over those years – world class faculty, dynamic classes, and individual attention to each student are just a few of the many things that are the foundation of the ArtsBridge experience. I also look forward to adapting and wrapping the program around the needs of future generations of young musical theater artists as they prepare for a career in an ever-changing field.

In addition to the skills and tools students acquire at ArtsBridge, I have also observed an intangible that is hugely present in the two weeks. There is an incredible force that emerges from being a community of artists together in space. Young people from around the country have a chance to meet each other and realize the larger musical theater community that perhaps they have never experienced. Lifelong friendships are formed that can last well beyond a summer and continue through college and beyond. This community has the potential to not only help students find their way to success in the profession, but also the potential to help change our world for the better. What a privilege we have as a faculty to help ignite that passion in young people while also helping with their training and college preparation.

Our plans for 2024 are already underway! On behalf of the faculty from top programs around the country, I extend you an invitation to apply for what will surely be an exciting summer.    

I wish you the very best at the Holidays and in the New Year!

John Simpkins

Artistic Director, ArtsBridge Summer Musical Theater

Head of Musical Theatre, Penn State University



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