Published on theMusic.com.au, Jan 2016
book of mormon
eugene o’neill theatre, new york
It was only a matter of time until South Park masterminds Matt Stone and Trey Parker found their creativity leaking onto the stage.
It became quite apparent in their 1993 feature film Cannibal! The Musical that they had a strong passion for musicals, and their work following honed that skillset until a stage show could wait no more. Having dabbled in Mormonism before with Orgazmo (1997), the foundations for Book Of Mormon had been set.
It’s easy to laugh at the idea of the team behind a talking Christmas poo infiltrating the inner sanctum of Broadway, but it’s the genius undertones that South Park and films like Team America utilise that makes the prospect of a musical from the pair promising.
The curtains open, and pre-recorded narration from the aforementioned legends begins proceedings – one of few times they’ve insert themselves into the show.
Book Of Mormon tells the tale of said holy book through the plight of a mismatched missionary team (Elder Price and Elder Cunningham) who get sent to war-torn Uganda to spread the word of Jesus Christ.
The show strikes a healthy balance between dialogue and song and builds its humour on thought-provoking grounds, while stage size restrictions have been dealt with nicely, rendering sets that are engaging, impressive and immersive.
The production’s tunes are catchy enough to be rattling around in your head for months (more than worthy of the Tony and Grammy awards received for its soundtrack) and even though they’re all pretty much tongue-in-check, feel uplifting like Broadway numbers should.
Its tasteful and witty jabs at organised religion don’t overpower the show, idling nicely in the background as the focus shifts more to the storyline and songs, eventually acknowledging the purpose and use religion can play, even if it does include a full-force, harmony-driven number that culminates when a religious leader fornicates with a frog. Plush toys of said amphibian were a nice addition to the merch stand.
Intelligent, hilarious and engaging, Book Of Mormon is a dream come true for theatre and musical lovers and also offers something for those who aren’t particularly keen on the format.
Book Of Mormon opens at Princess Theatre, Melbourne on 18 January, 2017, with general public ticket sales beginning next month on 8 February via their website.