South Park Creators’ Broadway Musical ‘Book Of Mormon’, Acceptable?
Mormon raised and co-creator of the controversial adult cartoon South Park, Matt Stone pairs up with fellow South Park creator Trey Parker to put on a Broadway musical titled ‘Book of Mormon’. The play actually moves rather than offends many of the believers in the audience. The Musical opens March 24.
Peggy Fletcher Stack – The Salt Lake Tribune
“Salvation has a name — Salt Lake-y City,” croons Nabalungi (played by Nikki M. James) in The Book of Mormon, which opened for previews at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in February and ended with a standing ovation.
The lyrics are ironic, of course, as is much of the story written and directed by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in conjunction with Robert Lopez, who helped compose the award-winning musical Avenue Q.”
Sure enough, the production, which opens March 24, is bawdy and irreverent. Many believers would see it as a blasphemous assault on scriptures, much like the pair’s animated TV series. But the satire and tone were not as hostile as many Mormons feared.
“I was expecting to be offended,” said Anne Christensen, a 22-year-old LDS New Yorker, “but was pleasantly surprised by how incredibly sweet it was.”
Her mother, Janet Christensen, added: “It’s not G-rated, but they treated us with affection. And they did their homework.”
The play is a story about faith and doubt, with actions and themes that will be familiar to most Utahns, no matter their religious tradition.
The set includes the outside frame of an LDS temple, with a spinning Angel Moroni on top. There are brief appearances by LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, his successor, Brigham Young, Book of Mormon figures Mormon and Moroni, and Jesus himself.
The main characters, though, are LDS missionaries in white shirts, ties and those ever-present name tags.
The first scene shows about a dozen missionaries happily ringing doorbells and claiming all answers “are in the book,” holding up copies of The Book of Mormon.
For the next two hours, these young men sing about being temptation, sexuality, guilt and fear, and about believing sometimes-ludicrous doctrines. They deal with differences and egos and doubt.
One mismatched pair, Elder Price (played by Andrew Rannells) and Elder Cunningham (played by Josh Gad), is sent to Uganda, where AIDS has decimated the population and the locals believe having sex with a virgin is the only cure. A local warlord is threatening to attack and circumcise all the women.
Price, a by-the-book leader who thought Orlando, would be a perfect place to do his two-year stint, is convinced that he can change the world by baptizing the most people. He is confident and cocky.
Cunningham, a geeky but eager misfit, just wants to be liked. He hasn’t actually read the Mormon scripture but loves the stories of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and mixes them into his preaching.