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Musical Theatre and All That Jazz

Discover how our new research network aims to explore the relationships between jazz and musical theatre

About the network

This AHRC-funded research network is led by Dr George Burrows (University of Portsmouth) and Prof Nicholas Gebhardt (Birmingham City University). It brings together an international group of scholars to exchange ideas about connections between musical theatre and jazz in dialogue with practitioners and industry workers. Through these exchanges, the network aims to develop new understandings, practices and works at the intersection of forms.

For more information, please contact mtjazz@port.ac.uk.

Why explore connections between musical theatre and jazz?

Musical theatre references jazz in its music and performance styles and in its representations of race, gender, sexuality and class. Conversely, jazz has adopted features of musical theatre in its repertoire of ‘standards’ and approaches to performing, recording and marketing. While such intersections have sometimes been acknowledged, the understandings, features and practices common to both forms have not been explored in detail before or considered for their meanings and developmental potential. The Musical Theatre and All That Jazz Research Network seeks to put that right and to see what can be gained by working across or between forms.

What sorts of questions will the network explore?

  • What does it mean that shows as diverse as Pal Joey (1940), Gypsy (1959), Chicago (1975), City of Angels (1989) and Lady Day (2014) directly reference jazz?
  • What is the merit of reading celebrated jazz performances, like John Coltrane’s recordings of ‘My Favorite Things’, relative to their musical theatre origins?
  • What happens when jazz musicians create work with musical theatre professionals?
  • What is gained for scholarship, practice and industry in conceiving of a cross-disciplinary and international understanding of forms, practices and meanings?

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How can I access the network and what is involved?

The network is accessible to anyone with an interest in its scope. It features a number of public events during its 18-month run, many of them available online by following links on this page, including keynote lectures, panel discussions and performances. Scholar discussions begin by considering ‘histories, materials and methods’ before turning to debate ‘forms, discourses and identities’ and then ‘audiences, policies and industries’. Scholars of any discipline are welcome to join the network membership for these discussions and anyone working within the musical theatre and jazz industries is also most welcome.

To get involved, simply drop us an email. You can also follow us on social media.

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Our members

As our research network grows, so does its membership.

We’re still actively recruiting members, so we'll be adding more names to the list below as they're confirmed.

Who we are

To view an academic's profile, please click their name (all links open in a new window).

Partners and funding

The Musical Theatre and All That Jazz network is the recipient of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and run in partnership with Birmingham City University.

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