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Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America$
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Jake Johnson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042515

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042515.001.0001

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“I’ve Heard That Voice Before”

“I’ve Heard That Voice Before”

Reprising the Voice in Sacred Time

(p.113) 4 “I’ve Heard That Voice Before”
Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America

Jake Johnson

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the cultural shift in Mormonism beginning in 1960, a shift prompted when Mormon leaders adopted a principle called “Correlation” that was intended to streamline Mormon theology and make it easier to explain in other parts of the world. In doing so, Mormonism placed a new premium on standardization--in clothes, practice, and even voice. Problematic ideas or beliefs from early Mormonism (such as the history of polygamy or racist policies) were abandoned and institutional focus turned to a much narrower set of religious principles that branded Mormonism as a promoter of an always-American value system. Consequently, Mormons increasingly felt compelled during this time to return to sacred time--the time before polygamy was abandoned and “true” Mormonism was practiced. Musicals, like other pageants, road shows, and dramas in Mormonism, helped Mormons remember and access that sacred time. This chapter explores how Mormon musicals of this time, particularly the 1973 phenomenon Saturday’s Warrior, provided a way of reprising Mormon ideals or beliefs lost in this process of standardization that ultimately enlivened contemporary Mormon theology.

Keywords:   reprise, Saturday’s Warrior, Correlation, standardization, sacred time, remember, musicals

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