Kirby was raised in San Diego by theatre parents Don & Bonnie Ward. In high school, he decided the “family business” was the path for him. Early directing efforts as a teen led to student productions at the University of Southern California under the guidance of John Blankenchip. Demonstrating particular skill with musical staging, Kirby caught the attention of Debbie Reynolds who he then worked with for many years, appearing with her onstage in her touring variety act and staging specialty material for her and Donald O’Connor.
Since that time, Kirby has traveled the world bouncing between acting, directing, and choreographing.
Notable experiences include:
- Winning the Best Short Film award at the Kent Film Festival for his original absurdist comedy, Down in the Mouth, a film he co-produced, wrote, directed, and edited.
- Serving as Bette Midler’s and James Caan’s dance trainer and assistant choreographer to the legendary director Joe Layton for the 20th Century Fox film For The Boys.
- Directing and recreating the original Ernie Flatt choreography for the first-ever regional production of Sugar Babies.
- Being named Best Director of the Year twice, first in Boston for his regional production of Singing’ In The Rain, then in San Diego for his work on a San Diego revival of Big River.
- Teaching American Musical Theatre technique to the students of the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, China. He then directed their ground-breaking production of Crazy For You, complete with new Chinese translations of all the classic Gershwin songs.
- Directing the culturally rich new musical Xanadu, The Story of Kublai Kahn in Inner Mongolia, a project that included overseeing the conversion of a 20,000 square foot Yurt into a state-of-the-art theatre-in-the-round.