In Memory of Bruce Kirle, Theatre Program Funds Musical Theatre Collections

Family and friends of Bruce Kirle, ’02,  offered a gift to the Graduate Center, CUNY, Ph.D. Program in Theatre in his honor.

Dr. Bruce Kirle died suddenly in New York at the age of 59 in 2007. He was a lifelong lover of musical theatre. Before attending graduate school, he was a professional musical director and nightclub singer, collaborating with many theatre luminaries. He was also a fixture at Marie’s Crisis, the most renowned of  Greenwich Village’s many piano bars, where he played the piano as patrons sang along to show tunes. In 2005, he published his important study, Unfinished Show Business: Broadway Musicals as Works-in-Progress (Southern Illinois University Press), which was based on his Graduate Center dissertation. At the time of his death, he taught at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

Theatre students Emily Clark (left) and Dan Venning (right) offer the Kirle Gift to Chief Librarian Polly Thistlethwaite (middle).

Because Dr. Kirle’s personal and scholarly interests centered on musical theatre, organizers directed the donation for purchase of a significant number of scholarly books about musicals as well as a collection of recordings. The CD collection is housed in the Theatre Program offices, and it is available to students who are studying or teaching musicals and need ready access to the music. The rest of the gift purchased approximately seventy-five scholarly studies of musical theatre for the Graduate Center’s Mina Rees Library. Spear-headed by Lynette Gibson, Academic Program Administrator,  in consultation with Professors David Savran, a musical theatre specialist; and Jean Graham-Jones, Executive Officer; and students Dan Venning and Emily Clark, the Program developed a list of books to supplement the library’s holdings on musicals and to reflect Dr. Kirle’s love of them. The donation project was completed in February 2013. MIna Rees Library book purchases are underway.

Theatre students Emily Clark (left) and Dan Venning (right) offer the Kirle Gift to Chief Librarian Polly Thistlethwaite (middle).

About the Author

Prof. Polly Thistlethwaite is CUNY's Interim University Dean for Library Services.