Being A Triple Threat – Is It Really Required?

Hello everyone, I’m Lydia Wills, and I’m a singer, actress, and dancer from Pennsylvania. I have just finished up my most recent show “Bye Bye Birdie” with Servant Stage Company, and recently played Hermia in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” with Aleithia Players. I have a total of eight years of dance training, including two years of pointe, eight years of ballet, two years of basic tap, and two years of basic jazz. I have been in many school plays and I am currently considering professional and community auditions for the coming year. My dream is to make it to Broadway, hopefully as a musical theatre actress.

Triple Threat – A Overview

As theatre actors and actress, I’m sure we’ve all heard it before – “You need to be a triple threat to make it on Broadway.” But what is a triple threat, and is being one really gong to help one break onto the Great White Way?

I heard it said once that being a triple threat highly increases your chance of getting to perform Broadway. However what is a triple threat?

 Simply put, a triple threat performer is someone who excels at acting, singing, and dancing, and is fluent is all three aspects.

You may be asking, especially if you mostly do plays, “Is being a triple threat only needed for musicals? What if I don’t want to do musicals and only want to do plays?” Well, too bad for you because only doing plays will lessen the chance of you making it as theatre actor anywhere, yet alone on the B-way. Musicals are a large part of the live theatre industry and you don’t want to be waiting tables your entire life just because you don’t know how to dance. Taking dance classes or voice lessons is a simple way to assist yourself and is normally fairly inexpensive.

Being a Double Threat

This being said, however, it is possible to become a Broadway performer, and have miminal or no training in dancing. However it is possible to make it too the big stage being what I like to call a “Double Threat”.

A double threat performer is someone who excels at acting and singing, however have little to no dance experience.

There are many performers who don’t have a strong dance background, and have still had extremely successful Broadway careers. I have selected two performers who were/are on the casts of hit musicals to talk about for this section.

  • Ben Fankhauser: Broadway: Newsies; National Tours: Spring Awakening, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.
  • Ben Platt: Broadway: Dear Evan Hansen, The Book of Morman; Movies: Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2.

First of all, I’m going to talk about one of my personal favorite performers, Ben Fankhauser. He is probably best known for playing newcomer newsboy Davey in the the Paper Mill Playhouse and Broadway productions of Disney’s hit musical “Newsies”. To those of you who are familiar with “Newsies” then you surely know it is extremely dance heavy, and is possibly one of the most dance heavy musicals to ever be on Broadway. However, despite playing a prominent character in the musical for it’s entire regional and Broadway run, his dance training up to the point of his casting was minimal. He has said, however, that he had taken some tap classes in preperation for dance auditions, and that he continued to take through rehearsals for the Paper Mill production.

Second, we have Tony award winner (Best Leading Actor, “Dear Evan Hansen”) and Broadway star Ben Platt. Currently staring as the title character in “Dear Evan Hansen”, winner of the 2017 Best Musical Tony award. Now, I am completely aware that his shows are all very light on the dance spectrum, however that does not differ my choice to use him as a model for this section.

Dancing is not his strong suit, but he worked his butt off to be the best dancer he could possibly be, giving to the role what it needed. He just plain worked hard. — Ted Walch, LA Times Article on Platt.

Above is a quote from a former teacher of Ben Platt, in an interview he did for the Los Angles Times. (1) Now, Ben has stolen peoples hearts with the extremely emotional performance in “Dear Evan Hansen”, but his ability to dance has had nothing to do with his success. Though his musicals haven’t been dance heavy, his ability to perform in the areas of singing and dancing are providing his as much and a strong background in dance could.

The Finale Scene

These talented actors just prove that you can indeed have a successful career in live theatre without having triple threat training. Though I would highly suggest some dance classes for up and coming performers, if that is not an option for you, then it is possible to continue to purse your dreams. So go out there and keep working, training, auditioning, and hopefully performing because you never know what might happen in the theatre. Break a leg!


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Written by Lydia

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