The Hilarious Musical that Shocked Broadway
Who is Joseph Smith, why is he the All-American Prophet, and what does Uganda have to do with Mormons? These are just some of the questions that can be answered by watching the Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon. A tongue-in-cheek parody of the Mormon faith and its followers, this musical comedy is brought to life by the infamous Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the naughty Comedy Central cartoon South Park, and musical writer Bobby Lopez. The winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Actress, there is nothing not to like about this musical.
Pegged as “hilariously inappropriate” with the potential to offend a sect with powerful political allies, this religious satire became a runaway hit and is one of the hottest shows on Broadway. The unlikely hit, hailed as the new “darling of Broadway,” was a surprise coming from a notoriously potty-mouthed duo with a record full of controversy and irreverence.
Both students of the University of Colorado Boulder, Parker and Stone, friends who both shared a love for film and music, had been exposed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as they had already produced controversial yet successful cartoons, full-length movies, and video games that parodied many social issues, faiths, and beliefs, they chose to create a musical about Mormons for their next project. Originally for a failed television series about historical characters, they created a fictional version of Joseph Smith that would appear several times in their South Park cartoon series, and now appears in their Broadway show.
The Book of Mormon stars Josh Gad, who plays a Mormon missionary, Elder Arnold Cunningham. He and Elder Kevin Price, played by Andrew Rennels, are sent to Uganda to convert the natives to the Mormon Faith. The play premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theater on March 24, 2011, and received rave reviews and praise from fans and critics alike. With themes like faith and doubt, as well as two different perspectives of the Mormon faith, it is portrayed as well-meaning and optimistic despite the setting.
The show was taken on a US national tour in 2012 where it was played in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and in Honolulu, as well as a limited engagement in Chicago for a year. The show is currently running at the Prince of Wales Theater in West End, and was quickly followed by a second US national tour, and then an international tour that started on January 2017 in Melbourne, Australia, followed by a non-English version in Stockholm, Sweden. It is set to play in Denmark and Norway.
A show that can touch the hearts of so many while being offensively funny, the Book of Mormon has become an instant classic that will be appreciated by everyone for many years to come.