Question – What do you get when you combine the creative team from South Park with the musical genius from Avenue Q?
Answer – One of the funniest musicals ever to play on a Broadway stage!
The Book of Mormon is a hilarious spoof on Mormonism and organized religion in general. The Broadway show follows a pair of mismatched Mormon boys, Elder Cunningham and Elder Price, sent on a mission to Uganda, Africa. The portly and dim-witted Cunningham has never actually read the Book of Mormon and is far more interested in Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Price, on the other hand, is a devout, good-looking Mormon with dreams of moving to Orlando.
Once in Africa, the boys are confronted with the fact that the villagers will not easily convert to Mormonism. After numerous road blocks such as AIDS, warlords and maggots, Cunningham surprisingly manages to convert the villagers by combining a little bit of Mormonism with a lot of made up stories that actually relate to the villagers problems.
No doubt, those in the audience who are devoutly religious might be offended. The show consists of adult material and is a far cry from traditional musicals like The Sound of Music or The King and I. But the story line by Matt Stone and Trey Parker is great, the jokes are hysterical and the music by Robert Lopez is memorable. The Book of Mormon is a must-see if you are in the New York area.
Josh Gad delightfully portrays the doofus and hero of the show, Elder Cunningham. His comic timing and vocal range are truly impressive. Andrew Rannels plays a convincing ‘Mr. Perfect’ in Elder Price. Nikki James is blissful as Nabulungi, the beautiful African villager who idealizes Salt Lake City.
Highlights of Act I include the hilarious duet by Cunningham and Price “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” and the song sung by the villagers “Hasa Diga Eebowai” translated literally as “Fuck you, God”. But the funniest song of Act I, “Turn it Off”, is sung by the closeted Mormon homosexual, Elder McKinley.
In Act II, the “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” shows off the worst fears a Mormon could have: including the devil, dancing Starbucks cups and rampant homosexuality. Later on, Cunningham and Nabulungi sing the uptempo, erotic duet “Baptize Me”.
Tickets to The Book of Mormon are currently hard to come by. No doubt, this is currently the best musical playing on Broadway. But if you are lucky enough to see the show, be prepared to laugh.
The Book of Mormon is currently playing at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre at 230 West 49th Street in New York City.