Laura MacDonald

Assistant Professor

C320G Snyder Hall


Image shows Laura MacDonald



PhD in American Studies, University of East Anglia
MA in Drama, University of Toronto
MSc in International & European Politics, University of Edinburgh
Bachelor of Journalism with Combined Honors in Theatre, University of King’s College


Twitter: @lauraemacdonald



Laura MacDonald grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she studied journalism at the University of King’s College, earning a combined honors in theatre through Dalhousie University. After a brief stint as a freelance journalist, she earned master’s degrees in international politics at the University of Edinburgh, and drama at the University of Toronto. This interdisciplinary path eventually led her to complete a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of East Anglia. Before joining the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) at MSU, she taught at the University of Lincoln and the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, and at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She has held a British Council Researcher Links Fellowship at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea and an Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellowship at the Shanghai Theatre Academy in China.

Her research focuses on Broadway musical theatre history, theatre producing and marketing, audience and fan studies, and transnational musical theatre history in Europe and East Asia. Her first book, Still Here: Long-Running Broadway Musicals and their Engaged Audiences (in progress) expands her dissertation work, investigating how theatre audiences have been persuaded to attend certain musicals, and how their active consumption contributes to productions' ability to sustain extremely long runs. Combining archival research and interviews with key industry figures, this book evaluates the contributions of previously un-assessed, or under-acknowledged contributors to the musical's survival: producers, press agents, marketing and advertising professionals, journalists, and audiences. Her second book project chronicles the history of the largest non-English speaking musical theatre markets—Germany, Austria, Japan, and South Korea—along with the emerging Chinese market. Mapping out the transnational journeys of key performers, directors, choreographers, producers, writers, composers, and teachers who each transported musicals, practice, and ideology, this book will establish how the American musical further developed European and East Asian theatre industries, from the 1950s to today.

She has also co-edited (with musicologist William A. Everett) The Palgrave Handbook of Musical Theatre Producers, a collection of 51 essays tracing producers’ artistic and entrepreneurial innovations in developing the stage musical. This represents the first serious and detailed investigation of the role of the producer in commercial musical theatre. She is now co-editing (with Everett and dance scholar Ryan Donovan) The Routledge Companion to Musical Theatre (manuscript due 2020). She has previously been elected to a range of leadership positions for the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS), the British Association for American Studies (BAAS), and the Music Theatre/Dance Focus Group of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (MTD/ATHE). She currently serves as International Secretary of the American Theatre and Drama Society.

She regularly contributes to new musical theatre development as a dramaturge, and facilitates her students’ collaboration as dramaturges with professional writer and composers.

She tweets about her teaching and research at Twitter bird logo in blue circle @lauraemacdonald


Recent Publications

"Rising in the East: Disney Rehearses Chinese Consumers at a Glocalised Shanghai Disneyland." Performance and the Disney Theme Park Experience (Jenny Kokai and Tom Robson, editors, Palgrave, 2019). 
Have I Done Enough?: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton's Culture of Generosity.” Performance Research Journal 23.6 (2018): 40-49. 
Connection in an Isolating Age: Looking Back on Twenty Years of Engaging Audiences and Marketing Musical Theatre Online.” iBroadway: Musical Theatre in the Digital Age (Jessica Hillman-McCord, editor, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017: 17-42). 

Courses Taught:

Spring 2020
RCAH 112 Global Fan Practices: Translation, Subtitling, Fanfiction and Fanart
RCAH 215 Introduction to Acting: From the Inside Out and the Outside In
Fall 2019
RCAH 315 Musicalturgy: Building Musical Theatre Worlds