This post was written on April 14th, 2010. If you would like the read the REAL review, then please go here: Theatre Review: “The Book of Mormon” @ Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 04/12/2011
Yes, a show called, The Book of Mormon musical is coming to Broadway in March 2011, by none other than the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q composer and co-creator Robert Lopez.
When I first heard about this, I actually never thought producers would be willing to produce this for a number of reasons, but it’s even more surprising to me that they are shooting for Broadway. Why Broadway? What ever happened to Off-Broadway? Or I have a better idea, stick to South Park boys, Broadway doesn’t want you.
I’m a huge fan of parodies – Avenue Q is one of my favorite musicals. It’s hysterical for all the right (and sometimes wrong) reasons. It makes fun of something that most of us grew up with – “Sesame Street”. Everyone has seen “Sesame Street” at some point in their life and that’s why it was so funny. Every person in the audience has a personal connection to the material.
What are the producers thinking? (Scott Rudin – “God of Carnage,” “Fences” – and Anne Garefino, the executive producer of Comedy Central’s “South Park”) Who’s their audience base for this? Who’s gonna spend over $100 dollars to see this on Broadway? And how is it going to have any staying power on Broadway? What is the personal connection that the audiences are going to have with this material? Mormons aren’t going to go see this, so who?
Now, let’s look more closely at The Book of Mormon musical. Michael Riedel of the NY Post says, “…they’ve have made a couple of field trips to Salt Lake City and have pored through The Book of Mormon.” He quotes Parker saying, “We’re bigger authorities on The Book of Mormon than most Mormons.” Wow, could you be more insulting to the general Mormon population? A couple of field trips? Pored through The Book of Mormon? Does that really make you an expert? Oh wait, you grew up with a lot of Mormons, now it all makes sense.
This isn’t a musical that is going to lightly poke fun of Mormon’s big families or their conservative values. As NY Post continues to report, “The musical tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda. Their tale is told alongside the story of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter-day Saints.”
What is funny about sacrificing your life for two years to be a missionary at the age of 19 years old? What is funny about Joseph Smith, a man that was assassinated by an angry mob at age 39 years old, for his religion? (And no one was ever convicted for the murder.) Where is the funny or satire in all of this?
Sure, poke fun of the peculiar nature of Mormon’s cultures, but when you start your irreverent fun about things you don’t understand, it’s just offensive. There are some things out there that are sacred to people, regardless of your own personal beliefs. At the very least, be respectful to one another. Based on Riedel’s interview The Book of Mormon musical will be extremely offensive in more ways than one and being offensive just isn’t that funny.