cover of book

Lying in the Middle: Musical Theater and Belief at the Heart of America
by Jake Johnson
University of Illinois Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-0-252-05285-9 | Cloth: 978-0-252-04392-5 | Paper: 978-0-252-08599-4
Library of Congress Classification ML2054
Dewey Decimal Classification 782.140973

The local and regional shows staged throughout America use musical theater’s inherent power of deception to cultivate worldviews opposed to mainstream ideas. Jake Johnson reveals how musical theater between the coasts inhabits the middle spaces between professional and amateur, urban and rural, fact and fiction, fantasy and reality, and truth and falsehood. The homegrown musical provides a space to engage belief and religion—imagining a better world while creating opportunities to expand what is possible in the current one. Whether it is the Oklahoma Senior Follies or a Mormon splinter group’s production of The Sound of Music, such productions give people a chance to jolt themselves out of today’s post-truth malaise and move toward a world more in line with their desires for justice, reconciliation, and community.

Vibrant and strikingly original, Lying in the Middle discovers some of the most potent musical theater taking place in the hoping, beating hearts of Americans.

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