From farmers and cowboys in Oklahoma! (1943) to business executives in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961), to small business owners in In the Heights (2008), the American musical has consistently staged a range of communities pursuing similar dreams of success. With their narratives of triumph over adversity and the pursuit of the American dream, such musicals have promoted both social unity within American communities, as well as the potential for individual success. Anyone willing and able to consume, if not perform, American songs and dances, could experience the transformative promise of the postwar American experience. While musicals circulate American themes and stories, these are not bound by time or place, and this flexibility makes them accessible to audiences beyond the United States -– in Europe and East Asia in particular.
What separates the American musical from these other forms of popular culture that have flourished in global markets are its narratives of progress, potential and the pursuit of the American dream, as well as the heightened emotion of the songs and dances, performed live, that define the genre. By considering Golden Age musicals such as Oklahoma! and Man of La Mancha, and more recent American musicals such as In the Heights, Laura MacDonald will present video clips from these acclaimed musicals and their global popularity, and with a panel including herself, NYU Shanghai Assistant Professor Dianna Heldman and Mickey Zhang, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, will consider the practical challenges involved with bringing foreign musicals to Europe and East Asia.
Originally from Canada, Dr. Laura MacDonald is Lecturer in Musical Theatre at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. She previously taught American Studies at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). Her articles and reviews have appeared in Studies in Musical Theatre, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, New England Theatre Journal,Theatre Research International, Theatre Journal and Theatre Survey, and she is preparing a monograph investigating the making and marketing of long-running Broadway musicals. With William A. Everett, she is the co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Musical Theatre Producers (forthcoming in 2016). In the fall of 2015 she was a Visiting Professor in the Institute of English and American Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, funded by the British Council's Researcher Links program. She is currently a fellow at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, through the Arts and Humanities Research Council International Placement Scheme.
An award-winning pianist and vocal coach at the Department of Musical Theatre, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Mickey Yi Zhang retains a distinguished background in classical music. Zhang holds a Bachelor's degree in piano performance from the Department of Music, Xiamen University, 2004, and a Master's degree in piano pedagogics, Department of Piano, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, 2007.
Assistant Professor Faculty Fellow Lena Scheen will introduce and moderate the panel discussion.
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