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A KU scholar’s new book chronicles the impact of hip-hop on musical theater

A woman sitting in a radio studio gestures with both hands while talking at a microphone.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Nicole Hodges Persley talks about her book "Hip Hop in Musical Theatere" on KCUR's Up to Date on Aug. 25, 2023.

University of Kansas professor Nicole Hodges Persley's new book illuminates hip-hop’s historical and contemporary significance to musical theater — even beyond "Hamilton."

Of course, there’s "Hamilton: The Musical." But hip-hop became a part of musical theater long before Lin-Manuel Miranda's juggernaut hit the stage in 2015.

According to Nicole Hodges Persley, a University of Kansas professor of American Studies and African & African-American Studies, mainstream theater is in the middle of a cultural reckoning.

“I think we're in a watershed moment in the American theater of asking...who those shows are serving,” Hodges Persley told KCUR’s Up To Date.

Hodges Persley’s new book “Hip-Hop in Musical Theatre” takes a chronological look at the various, and not always obvious, ways hip-hop culture has influenced musicals since the early 1970s.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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