Book of Mormon=gud
“it da best”
“best of century”
“u cnt mss”
I feel like that pretty much sums up what critics have had to say for the Book of Mormon.
Now...In a world
Where one man doesn't play by the rules
Will his review...
Change the world!? (Do something incredible)
Truth is, it won’t.
This is an incredibly weird review to write for a couple reasons. 1, everyone else has already said they like it. Everyone on the plane Earth. Including the amazing, well-spelled reviewers quoted above. 2, because unless you have already bought your tickets, you will likely not see Book of Mormon on this tour. It was sold out in September, and although there is a small chance you can walk in and get tickets...it’s incredibly small. 3, because I’m no good at praise. Book of Mormon is an amazing musical, and this is a great production. I don’t have much to say about good things but to go see it for yourself; telling you too much about it will spoil it. And I really don’t want to spoil it.
The biggest point I’ll probably make is this; I find it amusing that BoM is considered so innovative. It’s really not that much different than other shows, aside from an impeccable level of direction and drenching the show with satire. (Okay that’s pretty different.) It has a strong vision and purpose, and all that it sets out to do it does well. Why is that so shocking and/or different? And why have we as audiences accepted anything less?
Ripped off of Broadway.com. See what I mean? (Not pictured: Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark. )
It’s disheartening to see how effortlessly BoM rose to the top, and continues to be there, yet there’s no clear challenger on the horizon. Next season is filled with familiar shows, including the winner of the “Best Beater of a Dead Horse” Award, Mamma Mia. And on Broadway, it seems there’s no competitive spirit to be better than BoM, and very few new shows to attempt be peers to it. It’ll have its time, and then sit on Broadway for the rest of eternity, slowly fading back into mediocrity with the rest of the ‘greats’, until we have some hip, young outsiders come in and reinvigorate the musical scene with something ‘trendy’. (I can’t wait to hear about a Book of Mormon revival in 30 years.)
Though this is coming from someone who doesn’t pay much attention to Broadway. Please tell me if there is some new, fantastic musical on the horizon. Please.
It’s brilliant, alright? All of the pieces-choreography, sound, lights, acting-were amazingly well done (and funny!) and still fit into the world they were building.
Which, although a steaming lump of satire, was a well thought out world. The Ugandan setting was made much less offensive simply by having choreography and music that actually supported it. (You hear that Elton John? Music can be used to build setting!) Sweeping harmonies with scrumptious syncopation are present throughout entire musical, and with the variety of music on display(Team America-esque, Rock heavy “Man Up” to funky Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat-esque “All American Prophet”), the consistent rhythms and harmonies really helped tie the whole show together.
It also helps that the music was fantastic. A funky, break-able (as in the dance) drum break on All American Prophet alone was spectacular, and the percussion itself was some of the best I've heard in any musical. And it was done by one guy. I love you Giancarlo de Trizio.
Love you man.
The ensemble was also immensely enjoyable to watch. Taking a prominent role starting at top of show, whether they’re playing Mormons villagers, demons, they all still had character, and when they appeared as a group, they overpowered the protagonists in the best of ways. Elder Price (Mark Evans) was essentially the typical Broadway protagonist; tall, handsome, strong vocals with a large range. A dreamer, a leader, someone who gets things done. His partner, Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O'Neill , is the opposite, someone you would be hard pressed to find as a lead character in any other Broadway musical; short, chubby, a compulsive liar and nerd, with a bedroom rocker voice. One is the ‘chosen one’, the other is not. And then Trey Parker and Matt Stone subvert our expectations, but even that’s revealing too much.
Point being is that the ensemble had a lot more character, probably simply because I knew what to expect from the protagonists. The villagers were full of secrets, unexpected lines and funny moments. The Mormons all had unique stories to tell (and be made fun of), and two my favorite moments in the show, “Hello” and “I Am Africa”, happened with the ensemble of Mormons at the forefront, with Price and Cunningham playing smaller parts.
“Okay Justice, you have now stated that you like the show along with everybody else on Earth. How can I tell if it’s right for me, or if it’ll just be a Spooky Mormon Hell Dream?”
"Don't wanna be in this
Spooky Mormon Hell Dream!" (I was half expecting a Scooby Doo door sequence)
I think the biggest thing you should consider if you’re thinking about seeing BoM is if it’s a good musical for you. If you don’t like South Park, you probably will sit there and be stunned by some of the content. The “Content Warning: Explicit Language” or whatever it is for this show doesn't really cut it. It’s a South Park episode in the dress of a Mormon missionary, clean, pressed, trim, and polite on the outside, but with some Cartman outbursts from time to time. It entirely embraces the formula and format of a Broadway musical, but it goes out of it’s way to make fun of it, to be intelligently crass, to be charismatically offensive. If you are easily offended, this is not your musical, no matter how funny it is to watch satire of the stereotypical western perspective on Africa or a spooky Mormon hell dream.
There are lots of AIDS jokes. There are lots of sex jokes. There’s a ton of swearing, especially at God, and plenty of other potentially offensive things. If that turns you off, don’t go.
If you enjoy watching South Park, you’ll love BoM, if you can look past its moments where it slides back into ‘Broadway musical territory’. Like I said earlier, it embraces the typical Broadway musical form, it just does a lot of work to subvert it, through it’s use of satire, parody, and a prominent tongue-in-cheek.
Don’t come in expecting an episode of South Park, because it’s far from that. It’s South Park’s slightly more refined cousin, one that revels in the Broadway mindset but is still on the SP spectrum of thought.
TL;DR The Book of Mormon is a fantastic musical that you need to see...eventually. The planet Earth is right.