Act, Dance, Sing: How to Hit the Triple Threat Trifecta

Article Image
Photo Source: “The Music Man” Credit: Julieta Cervantes

From Sutton Foster jazz hands-ing her way across the stage in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” to Hugh Jackman showing off his pipes and busting a move in “The Greatest Showman,” performers who can act, sing, and dance dominate the industry. Ready to join their ranks? If your dream is to grace the silver screen, tread the boards of Broadway, or mesmerize audiences with your musical prowess, the path to triple-threat status begins with a relentless pursuit of excellence and a deep passion for your craft.

JUMP TO

What is a triple threat?

In the world of performing arts, the label of someone who excels as an actor, singer, and dancer is the ultimate accolade.

  • Actor: The foundation of any performer’s skill set, good acting involves embodying characters, conveying emotions authentically, and telling narratives convincingly through dialogue and actions.
  • Singer: Whether belting out show tunes on Broadway or crooning soulful melodies on a film soundtrack, singing prowess enhances an artist’s range and appeal.
  • Dancer: From classical ballet to contemporary hip-hop, dancing skills allow a performer to captivate audiences with their physicality and grace.

The concept of these multi-skilled performers is notably showcased in Michael Bennett’s groundbreaking 1975 musical “A Chorus Line.” The show, which follows a group of dancers vying for coveted spots in the ensemble of a Broadway show, was the first high-profile production populated entirely by triple threats—making it both a challenge and triumph to pull off correctly. 

Why become a triple threat?

Becoming a Cerberus of the performing arts realm offers a multitude of opportunities and advantages in a fiercely competitive entertainment industry. These include:

  • Versatility: In the musical theater industry, where adaptability is critical, those who don many hats have a significant advantage. They can seamlessly transition between roles, making them valuable assets to casting directors and production teams. 
  • Increased opportunities: By excelling in multiple disciplines, these performers open themselves up to a broader range of opportunities. Whether it’s starring in a Broadway musical, landing a leading role in a film, or headlining a concert tour, protean performers have the flexibility to pursue diverse career paths.
  • Marketability: Having a diverse skill set means going to the front of the line for productions seeking performers who can do it all. Increased marketability can lead to higher visibility, better roles, and greater career longevity.

Tips and techniques to become a triple threat

Dance class

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

You need dedication, discipline, and a willingness to continuously hone your skills to achieve triple-threat status. Here are some tips and techniques to help you on your journey: 

  • Invest in education and training. If you’re a student, try some classes at your school or consider pursuing a relevant degree like drama, vocal performance, or musical theater. Alternatively, look for studios that offer classes and workshops to develop proficiency in each discipline. Look for reputable instructors who specialize in the specific styles or techniques you wish to master.
  • Practice consistently. Like any skill, mastery of the big three requires consistent practice. Set aside time each day to rehearse monologues, do vocal exercises, and learn dance routines. Doing so will help you build on your foundation and increase your stamina.
  • Expand your repertoire: Don’t limit yourself to a single genre or style. Explore different acting techniques, vocal genres, and dance styles to broaden your skill set and versatility as a performer.
  • Seek feedback: Actively seek feedback from instructors, mentors, and peers to identify areas for improvement and fine-tune your performance skills. Responding to constructive criticism helps you grow and refine your craft.

Famous triple threats

Joy Woods in “The Notebook”

Joy Woods in “The Notebook” Credit: Julieta Cervantes

These performers represent both legends of the stage and up-and-comers.

  • Sutton Foster: Foster has established herself as one of Broadway’s greatest leading ladies. Known for her Tony Award–winning performances in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Anything Goes,” Foster continues to dazzle audiences, most recently as Mrs. Lovett in the 2023 revival of “Sweeney Todd” on Broadway.
  • Hugh Jackman: Best known for his portrayal of Wolverine in the “X-Men” franchise, Jackman is a multifaceted performer with a background in musical theater. His Tony Award–winning performance in “The Boy from Oz” demonstrated his exceptional abilities, as did his star turn with Foster in the 2022 revival of “The Music Man.”
  • Chita Rivera: The owner of multiple Tony Awards starred in productions including “West Side Story,” “Chicago,” and “The Rink,” solidifying her standing as a true star of the stage.
  • Gene Kelly: Renowned for his masterful moves, charismatic characters, and velvety voice, Kelly is regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest. His iconic performances in films like “Singin’ in the Rain” showcase his unparalleled talent and enduring legacy.
  • ​​Amber Ardolino: Currently dazzling audiences in “A Beautiful Noise,” Ardolino shines as Marcia in the iconic number “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Her abilities to get down, hit that high note, and bring the drama means she leaves a lasting impression on Broadway. From ensemble roles in “Hamilton,” “Head Over Heels,” and “Moulin Rouge” to leading performances, Ardolino’s talent illuminates the stage.
  • JJ Niemann: Rising star Niemann is quickly becoming a standout in the musical theater scene. Boasting over 1 million TikTok followers and currently shining in an ensemble role (as well as understudying Marty McFly) in “Back to the Future,” his ability to both dance energetically and carry a vocally demanding show is solidifying his reputation as a multifaceted talent.
  • Joy Woods: Best known for her breakout role as Allie Hamilton in the musical adaptation of “The Notebook,” Woods is what Broadway journalist Hayley Levitt deems a “fully realized triple threat.” Prior to her star turn as Allie, Woods was in shows including “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Six,” and “I Can Get It for You Wholesale.”

These are just a few examples of the many triple threats who have made an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. If you’re inspired to follow in their footsteps, remember that achieving the trifecta of acting, singing, and dancing isn’t just about honing skills—it’s also about unlocking doors to diverse and rewarding careers within the entertainment industry.

Author Headshot
Maggie Bera
Maggie Bera is a NYC-based actor with a BFA in musical theater from Texas State University. Off-Broadway: “Powerline Road” (BwayWorld Award Winner—Best Performer Off-Broadway), “The Baker’s Wife,” and “Helen on 86th Street.” Regional credits include Engeman Theater, TUTS Houston, Fireside Theatre, and Connecticut Rep. TV: Showtime’s “The Big C” with Laura Linney. Maggie is also the founder of Actor Aesthetic, an actor lifestyle blog, podcast, and online learning community. Proud member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA.
See full bio and articles here!