Jeff Kennedy is a theatre artist, musician, author, scholar, and teacher whose varied interests have led him to a wide array of experiences. He is currently an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance at Arizona State University, where he has been teaching since 2000. As a music director, he recently served at Phoenix Theatre for the 21-22 season where, for five years, he was also the music director of the Phoenix Theatre New Works Cabaret and the Phoenix Symphony/Phoenix Theatre concert productions of An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and Oliver. He received the AriZoni Award in 2016 as Best Music Director for the Phoenix Theatre production of The Toxic Avenger and in 2014 for Avenue Q. As an actor, he performed the one-person play Liberace, and Anthony in End of the Rainbow and is a proud member of Actors Equity. He has conducted for Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx in a tribute concert to Ray Charles and created vocal arrangements performed by Dave Koz on his national Christmas tour. He has directed Arizona premiere productions that have included Passing Strange by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, Floyd Collins, and Myths and Hymns: Saturn Returns by Adam Guettel (iTheatre Collaborative); James Joyce’s The Dead; the John Bucchino revue It’s Only Life; the world premiere of Daniel Lentz’s Café Desire (also performed for the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco), and the world premiere live performance of Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration at Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre. For iTheatre Collaborative, he created, directed, and performed their Holiday Cabaret for thirteen years. He worked for Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine as a production assistant for the revival of Merrily We Roll Along (1985) and the first production of Into the Woods (1987). He has also been a music director for Broadway performers, including Pamela Myers, Carol Lawrence, and Jubilant Sykes. An award-winning composer, arranger, and producer, he has many recordings in gospel and choral music, and traveled for several years as the pianist for the Bill Gaither Trio and Gaither Vocal Band, also accompanying vocal artists that include Sandi Patty, Larnelle Harris, Mark Lowery, and Michelle Pillar.
Kennedy has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from California State University, Fullerton, and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from New York University. While a teaching fellow at NYU, he was the founder/producer with Dr. Lowell Swortzell of the award-winning New Plays for Young Audiences reading series at the Provincetown Playhouse, where he also designed the Playhouse’s historical gallery. He has since become a recognized scholar on the Playhouse and its history, becoming a frequently published author of articles and chapters, and his new book is Staging America: The Artistic Legacy of the Provincetown Players. He also has an award-winning research website about the Playhouse: www.provincetownplayhouse.com. He was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to study in London at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. He continues to be a frequent speaker about American theatre nationally for groups like the New York Historical Society, the Greenwich Village Preservation Society, Metropolitan Playhouse, the Newberry Library, and at theatre conferences internationally, most recently in Paris, Nancy, and Toulouse, France. He appeared this past season on the PBS series Poetry in America, hosted and produced by Elisa New, and recently wrote the musical score for a new episode on poet Robert Lowell.