School of Media and Performing Arts

Staff

Photo of Dr Laura MacDonald

Dr Laura MacDonald

  • Qualifications: PhD, MA, MSc, BJ (Hons)
  • Role Title: Senior Lecturer (Musical Theatre); Admissions (Drama and Musical Theatre
  • Address: White Swan Building, White Swan Road, Portsmouth PO1 2GA
  • Telephone: 023 9284 5136
  • Email: laura.macdonald@port.ac.uk
  • Department: School of Media and Performing Arts
  • Faculty: Creative and Cultural Industries

Biography

With a background in journalism, theatre history, international politics and American studies, I completed my PhD at the University of East Anglia in 2012. My thesis, Selling What People Need: How the Modern Broadway Musical Capitalized on Economic, Social and Political Change, expands musical theatre historiography by documenting the form's nature as an intersection of art and commerce. While completing my PhD, I lectured in American studies at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands), prior to taking up my current post at Portsmouth in 2013. I am the Focus Group Representative for the Music Theatre/Dance Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and Treasurer of the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS). My research on the transnational circulation of musical theatre has been recognised with a British Council Researcher Links Fellowship at Ewha Womans University (South Korea) and an AHRC International Placement Scheme Award at the Shanghai Theatre Academy (China). I tweet about my research at Twitter (@lauraemacdonald).

Teaching Responsibilities

I teach on the following units:

  • Milestones
  • Studying Performance
  • Text and Practice
  • Practical Skills
  • Musical Theatre Skills
  • Musical Theatre in Context
  • Drama in Context
  • Critical Approaches to Theatre
  • Applied Theatre

Research

Current Research Projects

  • Still Here: The Making and Marketing of Long-Running Broadway Musicals (in preparation). Building on my PhD thesis investigating long-running Broadway musicals from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, this monograph projects examines the role of marketing and audiences in sustaining long theatrical runs. Beyond the Golden Age, ticket buyers were hailed by new developments in marketing and publicity, and flocked to consume the potential the Broadway musical promised. As this study demonstrates, with examples from West Side Story to Hamilton, the Broadway musical is still here, and enjoying longer and longer runs, because of creators’ and producers’ cumulative, innovative work in the making and marketing of long-running Broadway musicals.
  • Transnational Broadway Dreams: The Growth of Musical Theatre in Postwar Europe and Asia (current research project). In this second monograph I investigate musical theatre in post-war Germany, Austria, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines (the largest non-English speaking musical theatre markets), along with the emerging Chinese market. I theorise the musical as an American institution, which when circulated transnationally, can influence and support the (re)construction of national identity in democratizing nation-states, while further developing their domestic theatre industries. The transfer of German-language musicals to Asia reflects these countries' shared enthusiasm for musical theatre, and the cross-cultural performances and reception across East Asian countries demonstrate the musical theatre industry's potential to facilitate cultural exchange and understanding, far beyond Broadway and the West End.
  • Musical Fan Communities: Connected Across Borders (with Jonathan Evans (School of Languages and Area Studies)). I am developing an interdisciplinary network project, Musical Fan Communities: Connected Across Borders. We investigate how film and stage musicals are received and remediated by fans in other cultures where other languages are spoken. We focus on how fans translate, literally and metaphorically, foreign musicals for themselves and their peers, recognising theatregoing as the basis for a transnational gift culture.

Other Research Interests

  • Spectacle in 1970s and 1980s dance musicals, early music videos, and megamusicals
  • Musical theatre as feminist historiography
  • Audience reception
  • National theatres
  • 18th Century French theatre
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Research profile

Explore my research profile, publications and activities on the Portsmouth Research Portal

View profile