ATHE’s Music Theatre/Dance Focus Group: The Bruce Kirle Memorial Debut Panel in Music Theatre/Dance

deadline for submissions: 
February 17, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Association for Theatre in Higher Education
contact email: 

The Music Theatre/Dance (MT/D) Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) announces its call for papers for the Bruce Kirle Memorial Debut Panel in Music Theatre/Dance at the 2019 ATHE conference in Orlando, Florida, from August 7-11, 2019. Accepted papers will be published in Studies in Musical Theatre, and panelists will receive a complimentary copy of Bruce Kirle’s Unfinished Show Business: Broadway Musicals as Works-in-Process.


This annual panel is held in memory of Dr. Bruce Kirle, scholar of musical theatre and longtime member of the Music Theatre/Dance Focus Group. Dr. Paul Laird, Professor of Musicology at University of Kansas, will serve as this year’s respondent. (Please see below for more on Drs. Kirle and Laird.)


Paper submissions may concern any area within the purview of the MT/D Focus Group, which encompasses opera, operetta, musical theatre, dance theatre, performance art with music or dance elements, and pedagogy of music theatre and dance. Paper submissions are especially encouraged to address intersections of ability, class, race, gender, nationality, and sexuality with global musical theatre/dance, broadly construed.


Submissions are open to emerging scholars (including graduate students) who have not yet presented at a national conference on a topic related to music theatre or dance, as well as established scholars who have not previously presented or published in the areas of music theatre or dance. Scholars must not be scheduled to present on music theatre or dance topics at any other national conference prior to the submission date, and papers may not be cross-submitted to another ATHE panel for the 2019 conference. Scholars may, however, present or serve on other panels at this conference.


For consideration, please e-mail your paper, 10 to 12 pages in length, as a Microsoft Word attachment to by February 17, 2019. Please include a cover page with your name, paper title, institutional affiliation, and contact information, but remove your name from the body of the essay.


Three papers will be selected by a blind-review committee for inclusion on this competitive panel. The selected authors will be expected to attend and present their papers at the conference in Orlando. Each panelist will receive a copy of Bruce Kirle’s Unfinished Show Business: Broadway Musicals as Works-in-Process ,generously donated by the Kirle family. In addition, panelists will also receive a yearlong subscription to Studies in Musical Theatre (Intellect Books), and their essays will be prepared for publication in that journal.


Please direct any and all questions to the current MT/D Focus Group Graduate Student Representatives, Amanda Olmstead and Stephanie Lim, at


For more information on the ATHE 2019 conference, visit


Bruce Kirle was a professor of music theatre studies at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and a former associate professor of theatre at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Kirle trained as a concert pianist and began his career writing musicals with Tom Eyen at La MaMa, the renowned off-off Broadway theatre club. He was a professional musical director in the U.S. and Canada. His credits include the nightclub act in which Chita Rivera introduced Kander and Ebb's songs “All That Jazz” and “How Lucky Can You Get.” Kirle studied English at Columbia University and received his doctorate in theatre from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He was awarded the Monette-Horwitz Dissertation Prize by the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies for an outstanding dissertation dealing with gender and identity issues. His groundbreaking work, Unfinished Show Business: Broadway Musicals as Works-in-Process, emphasized the centrality of the political and social environments in which musicals are created and performed. Kirle was well known as an extraordinarily dedicated and professional teacher, and he is remembered particularly for his encouragement of young scholars and actors.


Paul Laird is Professor of Musicology at the University of Kansas, where he has taught since 1994. His research specialties include the life and music of Leonard Bernstein, the American musical theater, the Spanish villancico, and Baroque string instruments. He is the author of numerous books, book chapters, and articles and has presented his research or taught at many conferences and universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, and Ecuador. He has written four books on Leonard Bernstein: Leonard Bernstein: A Guide to Research (2002), The Chichester Psalms of Leonard Bernstein (2010), Leonard Bernstein: A Research and Information Guide (second edition with Hsun Lin, 2015), and the biography Leonard Bernstein (2018) released in the Critical Lives Seriesfrom Reaktion Books. In addition, Laird has edited three editions of The Cambridge Companion to the Musical with William A. Everett, co-written with Everett two editions of the Historical Dictionary of the Broadway Musical, written Wicked: A Musical Biography (2010) and The Musical Theater of Stephen Schwartz (2014), and other books. Laird has written numerous articles and book chapters and serves on the editorial board of Studies in Musical Theatre.