Seriously Mad

Mental Distress and the Broadway Musical
Aleksei Grinenko
Explores the history of American musical theater’s engagement with the notions of madness, from Man of La Mancha to A Strange Loop


Theatermakers in the United States have long been drawn to madness as a source of dramatic spectacle. During the Broadway musical’s “golden age,” creative teams used the currently in-vogue psychoanalytic ideas about mental life to construct troubled characters at odds with themselves and their worlds. As the clinical and cultural profile of madness transformed over the twentieth century, musicals continued to delve into the experience of those living with mental pain, trauma, and unhappiness.

Seriously Mad offers a dynamic account of stage musicals’ engagement with historically significant theories about mental distress, illness, disability, and human variance in the United States. By exploring who is considered mad and what constitutes madness at different moments in U.S. history, Aleksei Grinenko shows how, in attempts to bring the musicals closer to “highbrow” sophistication, theater dramatized serious medical conditions and social problems. Among the many Broadway productions discussed are “Next to Normal,” “A Strange Loop” “Sweeney Todd,” “Man of La Mancha,” “Dear World,” “Anyone Can Whistle,” “Gypsy,” “Oklahoma!,” and “Lady in the Dark.”
Aleksei Grinenko teaches theater disciplines at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Product Details

  • 280 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2023
  • Forthcoming
  • 978-0-472-22133-2

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