Brought to the stage by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopezi in 2011, the comedy musical Book of Mormon is now playing on Broadway, the West End,ii and on tour across North America. I caught the final performance of their touring troupe’s local stop last night after having seen their London-based cast some two-and-a-half years ago.
As with other Parker-Stone productions, a healthy measure of the entertainment value was in the surprise / shock factor. The breadth of referencesiii and not-so-subtle physical gagsiv mixed in with legitimately Broadway calibre showmanship and a highly original score conspired to keep the appreciative audiencev in stitches whether they’re well-heeled families or middle-class farmers.vi So it was that one could scarcely tease apart the relative merits of the respective casts, particularly if taking in performances years apart. That I suspected the West End cast from 2014 to have been superior to the touring American one was little more than vaguely recalled conjecture and may well have far more to do with the subjective exceptionalism and unfamiliarity of the London venue.
Following the story of two complementarily-paired Mormon missionaries on their two-year stay in war-torn North Uganda,viii Book of Mormon hits the mark for date nights, family nights out, solo adventures, and whatever else besides. With several bits and pieces recognisable to long-time fans of Parker and Stone, it’s a turd so polished Hanky The Christmas Poop could’ve made a cameo.
Still, if it’s too “mean” a flavour for you, you can always turn it off… just like you do everything else.ix
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- Stone and Parker are obviously the masterful creators of South Park and Team America, but Robert Lopez… who’s that ? Only the co-brains behind Avenue Q, that’s who! [↩]
- I saw the West End production in 2014 with Gavin Creel as Elder Smith and Jared Gertner as Elder Cunningham, both of whom were American, just as the overwhelming majority of the touring casts are. Only the upcoming Australian production will be casting primarily non-USians. [↩]
- Jeffrey Dahmer was a new one for me, though apparently he’s up there with Johnny Cochran Hitler, and the great Genghis Khan as “Very Bad People” (TM). Sort of a weird, nonsensical list, but humour’s all about the unexpected. So there’s that. [↩]
- Eg. Having sex with babies to cure AIDS. [↩]
- Having Broadway shows come through Edmonton allows every theatre lover and their dog to bask in the reflected glory of Nueva York’s third-largest financial district (banking and real estate being the top two, respectively). [↩]
- It’s actually a bit sad to see the level of dishevelment displayed by large swathes of the uncouth crowds at the Jubilee Auditorium. With lower deck tickets over $100,* there’s no reason anyone down there should be wearing a motherfucking track jacket. And yet.
Only in Edmonton do the bums have this much more money than brains to the point where an older Polish gentleman I was talking to recently said that he won’t go to the opera or ballet at the Jube anymore because he can’t stand the slobs in their fucking cowboy boots. Soviet-era Poles dressed better for a night out at the theatre. And they were “poor!”
*Just checked these prices… thought they were higher! Seats in the West End on the day-of were ~£160 a couple years back. Maybe that was the entirety of the perceived difference right there : expensive = better, amirite! I jest… [↩]
- What do you figure the chances are that Parker, Stone, and Lopez showed Joseph Smith’s golden plates as a three-ringed binder as a nod to the late, great Naggum ?
this is another common misconception. what people “want” is a function of
what they learn is available. e.g., do Americans want three-ring binders,
and Europeans four-ring binders? or do they want binders and take whatever
number of holes they come with? or do they want something that can help
them organize their papers and take whatever is available? or do they
really want a less cluttered office and ease of storage and retrieval of
the information they receive? so, did people really _want_ three-ring
binders, or is that just what they could buy?
the problem is, what people _want_ is so far removed from the market and so
abstract that it takes designers, creators, producers and trend setters to
_give_ it concrete shape. they transform your want of a good night’s sleep
into a want of a waterbed, for instance. they transform your combined
wants of status and a means of transportation into a want of a particular
model of a car, and a _renewed_ want of a car every so often to maintain
that “status” thing.
- Follow the Good Book, preach the boys, and you too can realise salvation NIYL! Oh, and have lots and lots of kids! [↩]
I got a feeling,
That you could be feeling,
A whole lot better then you feel today
You say you got a problem,
well thats no problem,
It’s super easy not to feel that way!
When you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head,
Don’t feel those feelings!
Hold them in instead
Turn it off, like a light switch
just go click!
It’s a cool little Mormon trick!
We do it all the time
When your feeling certain feels that just don’t feel right
Treat those pesky feelings like a reading light
and turn em off,
Like a light switch just go bap!
Really whats so hard about that?
Turn it off! (Turn it off!)
When I was young my dad,
Would treat my mom real bad,
every time the Utah Jazz would loose.
He’d start a’ drinking,
and I’d start a thinking,
How am I gonna keep my mom from getting abused?
I’d see her all scared and my soul was dying,
My dad would say to me, Now don’t you dare start crying.
Turn it off, (Like a light switch just go click!)
(It\’s our nifty little Mormon trick!)
Turn it off! (Turn. It. Off!)
My Sister was a dancer, but she got cancer,
My doctor said she still had two months more
I thought she had time, so I got in line
for the new I-phone at the apple store.
She lay there dying with my father and mother
Her very last words were “where is my brother?”
(Turn it off!) Yeah! (Bid those sad feelings a adieu!)
The fear I might get cancer too,
When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend Steve Blade,
He and I were close as two friend could be
One thing led to another, and soon I would discover,
I was having really strange feelings for Steve
I thought about us, on a deserted Island
We’d swim naked in the sea, and then he’d try and…
WOAH! Turn if off, like a light switch,
there its gone! (Good for you!)
My hetero side just won!
I’m all better now,
Boys should be with girls thats heavenly fathers plan
So if you ever feel you rather be with a man,
Turn it off.
Well Elder McKinley, I think its ok that your having gay thoughts,
just so long as you never act on them.
No, because then your just keeping it down,
Like a dimmer switch on low, (On low!)
Thinking nobody needs to know! (Uh oh!)
But that’s not true!
Being gay is bad, but lying is worse,
So just realize you have a curable curse,
And turn it off! (Turn it off, turn it off!)
Turn it off!
Now how do you feel!
Then you only got yourself to blame,
You didn’t pretend hard enough,
Imagine that your brain is made of tiny boxes,
and find the box thats gay and CRUSH IT!
No, no, -I’m- not having gay thoughts
Alright! It worked!
(Turn it off!)
(Turn it off, Turn it off!)
(Turn it off, turn it off like a light switch just go click click!
What a cool little Mormon Trick! Trick trick!
We do it all the time!)
When your feeling certain feelings that just dont seem right!
Treat those pesky feelings like a reading light!
Turn it off! (Like a light switch, shut it off!)
(Now he isn’t gay anymore!)
(Turn it, turn it, turn it, turn it…!)
(Turn it, turn it, turn it, turn it…!)
ELDER MCKINLEY: Turn it off!