Song, Stage and Screen X

This June, Regent’s University London convened the annual international 'Song, Stage and Screen (SSS)' conference. Now in its tenth year, 'SSS X' had as its theme 'The Star System in Musical Theatre and Film' and attracted more than 50 scholars from nine different countries.

The conference was organized by Dr Olaf Jubin, who teaches musical theatre and media studies at RACL, and was held at 60 Paddington Street, part of the Marylebone Campus, to take advantage of the recently refurbished facilities which include a brand new theatre.

Over the course of three days, there were 40 presentations exploring the topics of stardom in music(al) theatre from a variety of angles, including

  • the power of icons and iconicity
  • the role of the media system in creating stars
  • the challenges of musical theatre training
  • expectations of performers in both musical theatre and opera
  • the careers of early Broadway luminaries
  • the global spread of entertainment
  • camp stars and stars in drag
  • the artist as star
  • the sales power of celebrities.

Highlights of the event included a well-received conference dinner on the main campus and two panel discussions with well-known musical theatre performers: three-time Olivier-Award winner Maria Friedman, Adrian der Gregorian (who earlier this year starred in the new British musical Made in Dagenham), Rosemary Ashe (Carlotta in the original production of The Phantom of the Opera) and up-and-coming actor Tom Sterling.

One of the aims of “SSS X” was to expand the academic discourse on the musical beyond the Anglo-American world. As the conference gave a platform to researchers from Mexico, Germany, Austria, Poland, Italy, Turkey and South Africa as well as to young as well as established academics from the UK and the US, this was readily achieved.

Another goal of the organisers was to include more scholars from the area of film studies. With several papers on Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, the classic Hollywood musical, Turkish cinema as well as German and Italian film stars during the era of fascism, the conference must also count as a success for this reason.

At the end of the three days, the conference participants agreed that the event was of a very high academic standard regarding both the presentations and the subsequent discussion and that it had been a highly productive exchange of thoughts and ideas in an atmosphere of mutual support and enthusiasm.