The Great American Songbook Foundation Presents: StageStruck 5!

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March/April 2024

“StageStruck! 5: Exploring Nostalgia and the Hollywood Musical” is the central theme of an upcoming international academic conference scheduled for May 15-17 in central Indiana. Organized by the Great American Songbook Foundation, based in Carmel, and co-hosted with the University of Sheffield (U.K.), the event will be held at the Center for the Performing Arts. Welcoming scholars and students globally, the conference will feature a hybrid format, allowing for interactive online participation alongside on-site attendance.

A Gathering Point for Global Talent and Expertise

The City of Carmel and the Center for the Performing Arts are excited to welcome convention attendees back to their renowned performing arts campus.

This will be the fifth StageStruck! conference organized by Dominic Broomfield-McHugh, Professor of Musicology at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of recent publications such as “The Oxford Handbook of the Hollywood Musical” and “The Big Parade: Meredith Willson’s Musicals from The Music Man to 1491,” both released by Oxford University Press.

Great American Songbook Foundation Executive Director Chris Lewis spoke about the importance of the foundation bringing in academic scholars such as Broomfield-McHugh.

StageStruck 5!

“Dominic is an example of someone that’s been impacted by our mission,” Lewis stated. “That’s a component of our mission that people don’t typically get to see, and that is the work in the archives and music library. I think this conference is a perfect example of the kind of scholarly work that will come from this conference and previous conferences. There are scholarly articles, recording projects, documentaries and books that come from these. Dominic has become a great friend and champion for the foundation who came here [Carmel] as a researcher in 2013, and he’s come back at least every other year since to help us with projects and to research his other projects.”

Broomfield-McHugh spoke about his reasons for selecting Carmel and the Center for the Performing Arts as the conference venue above all other global options.

“The facilities are beautiful—the Palladium and the whole center,” Broomfield-McHugh acknowledged. “It is such an attractive place to visit. There is such a strong sense of community in the city. And while the facilities are beautiful, they mean nothing if the people that are inhabiting them aren’t creating an atmosphere and a culture. There is a very strong sense of culture when you encounter people in Carmel. I really enjoy visiting, and it is total self-indulgence, frankly. The most important reason, from my academic point of view, is, clearly, this is the place to go for academic specialism. It is so exciting to bring academics from institutions [throughout the world] into this place where everything is the ‘Songbook,’ and that is very exciting for them.”

Celebrating the Hollywood Musical

Alongside the conference, the Great American Songbook Foundation will present a mini-festival celebrating the Hollywood musical. Open to both conference participants and the public, the festival will feature screenings of timeless films, Q&A sessions with industry experts, and an exclusive concert by the foundation’s founder Michael Feinstein. All festival activities are included with full conference registration and can be added on with single-day passes. Tickets for individual events will be available for purchase to the public later this spring.

Great American Songbook Foundation Director of Programs Renée La Schiazza shared more details about the conference and the public engagement opportunities.

“We’re bringing in over 30 speakers from seven different countries and locations throughout the U.S. for this conference,” La Schiazza said. “People are traveling across the world to come to Carmel and present on these themes of research that they’ve been exploring for their careers. From the national perspective, we’ll be hosting speakers from 15 states, including experts from Indiana, which I think is important [because] we’re not only getting that global perspective, but we’re also engaging experts that are doing their work right here in Indiana.”

La Schiazza expressed that the foundation is thrilled to bring international experts to Carmel for discussions that often lead to publications and industry projects, making significant contributions to musicology and the film industry. It’s also a special chance for central Indiana community members to enjoy classic film musicals.

That’s why the foundation is hosting a mini film festival of the Hollywood musical on May 14 and 15, featuring multiple screenings open to the public. With MGM’s 100th anniversary upon us, it’s the perfect time for this celebration. Attendees can experience rare screenings of these classics on the big screen, participate in Q&A sessions with conference experts and industry guests, and gain insights into the filmmaking process. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Carmel and its residents.

StageStruck 5!

“Residents from central Indiana can come here to the Center for the Performing Arts campus and experience these films in both the Palladium and the Tarkington [Theatre], and we’ll have artifacts on display from our collections that cross over into the films,” La Schiazza shared. “People will get a chance to engage with these experts from around the world, and I think it’s going be a really great week!”

StageStruck! 5 is supported in part by the City of Carmel.

Registration for the conference is open until April 15 at TheSongbook.org/StageStruck2024, where you can also find the complete schedule. For any inquiries, feel free to reach out to [email protected].

“StageStruck! 5: Exploring Nostalgia and the Hollywood Musical”

Attendance and pricing options include:

On-site: Full conference $230, single day $70

Online: Full conference $90, single day $30

Student: Full conference on-site $80, single day on-site $20, online only FREE

Reduced lodging rates are available at local hotels.

The scheduled keynote speakers are:

Maya Cantu, Bennington College – “‘A Bed of Roses, Thorny Side Up’: Countering Nostalgia in Bradford Ropes’s 42nd Street and in the Backstage Novel”

Desirée Garcia, Dartmouth College – “How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Musical?: Genre, Nostalgia, and Race”

Julianne Lindberg, University of Nevada, Reno – “A Star is Born (1932-2018): Nostalgia, Hollywood Pastiche, and the Idea of Entertainment”

Hannah Lewis, University of Texas at Austin – “La La Land’s Nostalgia”

The conference also will include a showcase of the Great American Songbook Foundation’s archival holdings of musical film and theater, including the papers of “The Music Man” creator Meredith Willson, songwriter Gus Kahn, and EGOT-winning performer Liza Minnelli.