Curtis Russell • Academic
Ph.D. The Graduate Center, City University of New York, expected 2021. Theatre and Performance, with certificate in Film Studies. Dissertation - "Pictures of the Past: Nostalgia for Classical Hollywood in the Broadway Musical, 1955-1990." Advisor: David Savran.
UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, 2019
M.A. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London, 2015, with Distinction. Performance and the City (renamed Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy).
H.B.A. University of Utah, 2014. Theatre Studies, magna cum laude. Honors designation.
Curtis Russell is a PhD candidate in Theatre and Performance with a certificate in Film Studies at The Graduate Center, CUNY. A former theatre critic, he received an MA with Distinction in Theatre Criticism and Dramaturgy from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and a professional certificate in screenwriting from UCLA. He has taught at universities in New York, New Jersey, and Utah. His research focuses on issues of power, reception, and aesthetics at the intersections of film and theatre.
articles + essays
performance, film + book reviews
“Actor-Musicianship, The Complete Book of 1940s Broadway Musicals, Musical Theatre Song,” The Journal of American Drama and Theatre 30.1 (2017). Book Review of Jeremy Harrison’s Actor-Musicianship, Dan Dietz’s The Complete Book of 1940s Broadway Musicals, and Stephen Purdy’s Musical Theatre Song.
“The Process of Dramaturgy,” Review: The Journal of Dramaturgy 23.1 (2013). Book Review with Martine Kei Green-Rogers of Scott R. Irelan, Anne Fletcher, and Julie Felise Dubiner’s The Process of Dramaturgy.
public + other writing
"The Revolution Should Not Be Televised: The Oeuvre of Peter Watkins," The GC Advocate
Part 1, Part 2
"Curtis took a topic that I knew very little about and had little interest in, and quickly made it my favourite undergraduate class. Leading us through a minefield of complicated critical theories, he helped me to understand them so well that not only could I apply the theories we were discussing to class work, but I was able to use them later on in completely unrelated classes. By the end of Curtis’ class, I felt my understanding of theatre, and the lens I viewed theatre through, had been expanded for the better. I could not have asked for a better class or professor to help me build my understanding and approach to theatre criticism; which in turn informed my performance, dramaturgy practice, and writing."
-Izabella Louk, Drew University 2018
"I love Professor Russell. He is inspirational about his job."
"Renewed my interest in theatre."
"Prof. was very open and willing to help students when needed. Prof. is genuinely interested in course material - easier to pay attention. Material covered theatre all over the world, not just the West."
"I appreciated the easygoing character of the professor. Never did he become obnoxious, overly serious, or too difficult to understand. These qualities made this class a true unforgettable experience."
-Anonymous student feedback, The City College of New York, 2017-2018
"Curtis' Musical Theatre History course is one of my favorite classes I took in college. He doesn't care if you think a show is perfect, he will push you to critique it because he knows it will make you a more intelligent consumer of theatre. His knowledge of musical theatre history is truly the most impressive I have ever encountered and he's always so excited to share that knowledge with his students. The most telling memory I have of Curtis is when he made himself available outside of class time to look over thesis statements for our final paper. I sent him seven different theses by email and he responded thoughtfully and constructively to every single one. Because of his class, I'm a better writer, a more thoughtful audience member, and less afraid to ask difficult questions with difficult answers. Plus, it gave me an excuse to listen to A Chorus Line for the thousandth time and not feel guilty about it. Thanks, Curtis!"
-Aya Newman, Drew University 2018-2019
"(Curtis) has researched the subject deeply. He has a friendly, non-judgmental demeanor, and has developed his abilities to negotiate a lecture-discussion considerably. He knows how to ask an intriguing probing question which elicits a multiplicity of responses. The class session was information-packed, but at no time did the observer sense that the students were being left behind. They seem to have done the preparatory readings and engaged in the discussion in an informed and confident way. Also, the class moved along briskly as the instructor structures the class with such a multiplicity of pedagogical modes. There is no room for boredom. The observer came in time for the second student presentation. If one closed one's eyes, one might imagine that it was a seasoned faculty member speaking; it was that sophisticated and well laid out. This was a high-level report indeed. The ensuing discussion continued at an erudite level, with the instructor setting a high intellectual bar and the students very much keeping pace. The entire room seemed thoroughly prepared and engaged with the discussion sections."
-Observation report, The City College of New York 2018
"Curtis’ class was a break from the monotony of my other classes. He made absolutely sure everyone had a chance to speak up and be heard. Class discussions were always very engaging and full of completely new ideas. The best professors are the ones who are excited and passionate about their subject, and Curtis fits that category."
-Annie McCasland, Drew University 2019
"In what might have been a surface level survey course, Curtis taught me to respect playwrights and artists at large for the systems they challenged in order to become culturally significant. He encouraged discourse by juxtaposing readings from various viewpoints and encouraged class discussion to the point of needing to put caps on student participation. There were days when each student could only speak five minutes. By modeling an open mind, which led me to really consider the distinction between race and ethnicity, he fostered an environment where voices were heard and ideas were built upon."
-Wesley Ahn, Drew University 2020
"Curtis Russell was able to guide class discussions in a way that always made us delve deeper into the themes of the plays we read. His friendly demeanor inspired us to do our best work and his persistance in getting all members of the class engaged helped us all develop a multifaceted view of theatre. It was a pleasure to have Curtis as our teacher in this introductory theatre arts course."
-Alexa Hinkle, Drew University 2020
"Yesterday was my second session with Curtis, both times he has been incredibly helpful. He takes the time to go over the work I submitted and the assignment, then we discuss how I can put the information on paper."
"Curtis provided excellent feedback."
"Curtis was able to communicate on my level and help me grasp the definitions and meanings applicable to the assignment. His approach should be adopted by professors 'who are teaching but the students are not learning' in general."
"Curtis was very helpful in helping me format and brainstorm for my essay. I really appreciate his help."
"Curtis gave focused, very helpful feedback, guided me through Chicago style, and made suggestions to improve my paper in a kind and supportive way. When I wasn't grasping a concept, he explained it different ways until I got it."
"Curtis was excellent and was able to help me with APA citations and provided me with excellent online resources."
"Curtis helped me a great deal."
-Anonymous student feedback, CUNY School of Professional Studies Writing Center, 2020-2021
Screen-to-Stage Musicals Database
Mokdad, Linda. “At the Intersection of music, sexuality and race: Hairspray’s generic and aesthetic variances.” In Twenty-First Century Musicals, edited by George Rodosthenous. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2018.
Osatinski, Amy S. "Ghosts in the Machine: Digital Technology and Screen-to-Stage Musicals." In iBroadway: Musical Theatre in the Digital Age, edited by Jessica Hillman-McCord, 73-91. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.
Rodosthenous, George, ed. The Disney Musical on Stage and Screen: Critical Approaches from ‘Snow White’ to ‘Frozen.’ London: Bloomsbury, 2017.
Russell, Curtis. "Four Hairsprays, One Baltimore: The city in trans-medial adaptation." Studies in Musical Theatre 12.3 (2018): 367-375.
Sebesta, Judith. “From Celluloid to Stage: The ‘Movical,’ The Producers, and the Postmodern.” The Theatre Annual 56 (2003): 97–112.
Tinkcom, Matthew. “’Dozing Off During History’: Hairspray’s Iterations and the Gift of Black Music.” In The Sound of Musicals, edited by Steven Cohan, 200-211. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.