Broadway musical comes to the Midwest
By Daniel Cobb
February 6, 2013
The sheer amount of profanity is unlike anything I have ever seen on stage, but Book of Mormon keeps it classy with award winning music and a great sense of self awareness.
Book of Mormon is a musical created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the incredibly popular and controversial South Park series. This is their first attempt at a Broadway play, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Book of Mormon has won nine Tony Awards including the award for Best Musical.
If you haven’t deduced from the title, Book of Mormon is a musical that’s almost entirely focused on highlighting some of the more interesting beliefs of the Mormon faith. If you’re not familiar with Mormon teachings, there are a few explanations given throughout the play that offer the audience humorous insight into the history of Mormonism. The song, “All-American Prophet” is an excellent example of this, telling of Joseph Smith’s journey to the Promised Land after finding “the third testament of the Bible.”
Specifically, Book of Mormon focuses on a nineteen year old Mormon elder named Kevin Price who is eager to be sent out on his mission to spread the faith. Price, in particular, is one of the, “smartest, best most deserving elders the center’s ever seen,” according to his peers. However, he is thrown into a difficult situation when he is paired with a clumsy, inept elder named Arnold Cunningham. Furthermore, Price’s hopes of being sent to preach in Orlando, Florida are crushed when he’s told that he’s being sent to a village in Uganda.
The story, overall, is incredibly funny and, at times, genuinely heartfelt. There are definitely a few lessons to be learned here regarding one’s appreciation for their own religion as well as how fragile friendship can become when put under stress. Furthermore, both Price and Cunningham aren’t portrayed as perfect Mormons, but instead as human beings who do, in fact, make mistakes and struggle with their beliefs. There are many characters in Book of Mormon; most of them being villagers with radically different beliefs from that of Price and Cunningham. These different attitudes about God and his works clash frequently, and account for much of Book of Mormon’s “unique” brand of comedy.
I can think of several people who would walk out of Book of Mormon before intermission strictly due to how filthy and irreverent the humor is. The comedy here can range from hilarious jokes to incredibly offensive observations that will have you laughing harder than you thought possible. Jokes about racism, rape and terrorism are fairly prevalent throughout most of the play. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t experience some genuinely funny jokes; most of which come from Cunningham’s general awkward attitude and appearance as well as his failure to identify with African customs. Early on, he develops a bit of a crush on one of the villagers, Nabulungi, but can never seem to pronounce her name correctly. Substitutes for her name include Jon Bon Jovi, Neutrogena and Nala (appropriate due to Cunningham’s fondness for Lion King).
Nearly every song in Book of Mormon is unforgettable. Each one is incredibly catchy, featuring outstanding orchestration and memorable lyrics as well as some fantastic choreography that rivals some of the best shows on Broadway. Furthermore, each song will have you laughing throughout the entirety of its performance. “Two by Two” is a song that features multiple elders singing of their joy of being paired with their brothers in faith as they proclaim, “Two by two, we’re marching door to door; because God loves Mormons and he wants some more!” Few soundtracks can compare to Book of Mormon’s.
Book of Mormon stands tall among some of the greatest plays currently touring the country. Nothing is off-limits in this outstanding musical by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who have solidified themselves as comedic geniuses. Book of Mormon is unlike anything you’ve ever seen; I simply can’t recommend it enough.
Book of Mormon is currently making its way across the United States, but will be showing in Saint Louis at the Fabulous Fox Theatre on from February 9 to March 3. You can purchase tickets through the website: http://www.bookofmormonbroadway.com/.