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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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(p.169) Epilogue
Mormons, Musical Theater, and Belonging in America

Jake Johnson

University of Illinois Press

The Epilogue briefly peers into Mormonism’s unfolding relationship with American culture, suggesting that the story of Mormons and musical theater might well be a fitting encapsulation of the American interception of modernity. Musicals and Mormons have come a long way since their rootedness in Jacksonian principles; their regional genesis quickly fanned out to become immense global expressions of American values. In the meantime, America changed. What was once ideal and reputable has become goofy and outmoded, and Broadway and Mormonism have been forced to pay for their naive pasts with cynicism and guffaws. The musical theater industry opted to change its image by aggressively appropriating popular music genres. Mormon leaders have chosen a more passive response, having faith that stasis will eventually reveal the radical qualities of Mormon ideals. As a result, musical theater has begun to escape Mormonism as its once-familiar venue for practicing its theology of voice. Book of Mormon is one example of this fallout--its message both a condemnation and an invitation to become something better. In the end, the tale of Mormons and musicals is another story about how new ways of sounding create opportunities for other ways of living.

Keywords:   American culture, modernity, global expressions, American values, Broadway, popular music, Book of Mormon, new ways of sounding

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