RCAH’s Laura MacDonald Receives Grant for Book on Transnational Impact of Musical Theatre

December 8, 2023

  • RCAH assistant professor is the first at MSU to receive funding from the Botstiber Institute. 
  • “It's a huge relief to have such generous support from the Botstiber Institute.”
  • Funding allows MacDonald to visit and evaluate theatrical archives and attend performances internationally during the coming year.

By Maren Case ’24

RCAH Assistant Professor Laura MacDonald has received a $10,000 grant from the Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies for research on the international reach of Broadway musicals.

“I’m excited to receive this $10,000 research grant because it will help me to complete some of the final research for my second book project, The Broadway Musical’s Transnational Journeys: Circulating American Dreams in Europe and East Asia,” she offered.  

The grant allows MacDonald’s research to span the globe as she traces the history of Broadway musicals’ transnational spread from the latter half of the 20th century to today. Accessing each nation’s archival resources can be a challenge, MacDonald said, and the funding will support her work with archival material documenting transnational musical theatre practice as well as her collection of oral histories and attendance at performances in the upcoming year. 

“It's a huge relief to have such generous support from the Botstiber Institute,” she said. “I'm grateful because this funding will allow me to truly fulfill the transnational aspects of this research.”

MacDonald is the first Michigan State University professor to receive funding from the Botstiber Institute, a Pennsylvania-based foundation founded to promote “an understanding of the historic relationship between the United States and Austria, including lands of the former Hapsburg empire,” according to its website.

Not only does the grant offer financial support for MacDonald’s research, but it asserts the importance of transnational musical theatre on a broader scale. 

“I wasn’t sure whether the Botstiber Institute would consider a project like mine that takes a transnational approach to theatre history, since their own commitment is to Austrian-American studies,” she noted. “But I’m thrilled that in giving me the award, they are recognizing the value of transnational theatre history.”

MacDonald’s scholarly research and publications focus on Broadway musical theatre history, theatre producing and marketing, audience and fan studies, and transnational musical theatre history in Europe and East Asia. She is the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Musical Theatre History (2023), a collection of essays introducing the fundamentals of musical theatre studies and highlighting developing global trends in practice and scholarship. She is also co-editor of The Palgrave Handbook of Musical Theatre Producers (2017), the first serious and detailed investigation of the role of the producer in commercial musical theatre.