Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ding-Dong: Hello!

Hello! Happy November, people of the world! Today, we’re going to discuss my most recent Broadway musical experience: Book Of Mormon!

Omigod, Amy! How did you EVER get tickets for BOM? The answer is quite simple, young padawan: Standing Room!  My mother and I arrived at the standing room line about 2½ hours before curtain (we sped over as soon as Annie – starring the hilarious Jane Lynch! – let out). We were almost the last two to be granted standing room spots. But by golly, we got in!!!  And for all those weirdos stunned by our willingness to wait for 2½ hours for a musical, I say we are no weirder than those who camp out for days for Rolling Stones tickets or park their asses in front of Toys-R-Us on Thanksgiving to acquire some flavor-of-the-week material object on Black Friday. And I’d do it all again (probably will), cuz it was totally worth the experience …and the $27 ticket price!

Book Of Mormon
Music, Lyrics, & Book: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, & Robert Lopez
Broadway Debut: 2011
Tony Nominations-Wins: 13-9

Book Of Mormon follows two Latter Day Saints missionaries – devout, clean-cut, naïve, Orlandophile, Elder Price and awkward, also-naïve, sci-fi aficionado and compulsive fibber, Elder Cunninham (who has never actually read the Book of Mormon) – on their 2-year mission assignment to impoverished, AIDS-riddled Uganda.  They have trouble connecting with the local villagers, as they are more preoccupied with poverty, famine, AIDS, and a genocidal, anti-clitoris warlord. 

Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s (the creators of South Park, in case you didn’t already know) style of humor is crass, crude, obscene, and remarkably genuine.  Absolutely nothing is sacred on South Park (which is where their in-good-fun Mormon-bashing began).  However, despite the offensive content, the four letter words and immature shenanigans often make way for a valuable moral or nugget of common sense to be learned at the conclusion. Even South Park has shining moments of real morality and social awareness stuffed in the gaps between fart jokes and shock value gimmicks.  The stars of the show (four loveable, foul-mouthed Colorado fourth-graders) often have something substantial to learn by the end of each episode, after trudging through the often puerile antics of their clueless parents and adult townspeople.   

Parker & Stone amplify that smut-with-a-message motif in Book Of Mormon.  BOM makes hilariously merciless jabsat Mormon faith, credibility, customs, and doctrines.  It lampoons famed musicals of old with song styles and references.  It mocks the AIDS pandemic in Africa, murderous warlords, organized religion, and female circumcision.  Yet, it also wraps the audience in the reminder that even though organized religion may seem bizarre and may not be for everybody, even when we stumble or lose our way, even though the world/people/God can be devastatingly cruel, humanity and faith in human perseverance can be found anywhere, even ravaged Uganda.  BOM shows that “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” isn’t a real place, but a metaphor; an idea of how collectively striving for perfection makes us “holy”.  It’s up to people to create paradise on Earth by being and doing the good they wish to see in the world and being “really fucking polite to everyone.”

NABULUNGI: But we aren’t going to Sal Tlay Ka Siti!

VILLAGER: Nabulungi…Sal Tlay Ka Siti isn’t an actual place! It’s an idea….a METAPHOR.

MAFALA HATIMBI: Yes, you must remember that prophets always speak in metaphors.

VILLAGER: You don’t think Joseph Smith actually fucked a frog, do you? That’s fucking stupid.

I find it simply deplorable when people shit on other people for the sake of shitting on other people.  I’m not saying we should all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya,” but can’t we just leave each other the fuck alone?  Some people think that’s the only way to succeed in life (“…two kinds of men: The one staying put in his proper place andthe one with his foot in the other man’s face.”), as if we’re incapable of being human beings to each other. Book Of Mormon does the opposite.  BOM encourages the push to make life better, even though it’s far from easy.  And that’s basically Rule #1 of any Judeo-Christian rulebook: Don’t be an asshole.  I realize a lot of people have trouble with this concept, but I assure you it’s really not that difficult. Just try it!

Okay, rant over.  So basically, Book Of Mormon lives up to its hype.  There’s something for everyone.  It’s funny as hell with catchy, tunes with substantial lyrics, an uplifting message, and sick, twisted humor.  It’s also all any South Park fan would expect when Trey Parker & Matt Stone attempt to put on a musical. I highly suggest parking your derrières at the Standing Room line for 2½-3 hours and see it (Tip o’ the Trade: If you go with a friend, one of you stay in line while the other gets takeout so you both don’t starve, lose your spot, pay tip, OR pay the sharing charge the NYC restaurants tend to slap on you)!
Fun Fact: The Broadway production came in under budget at $9 million (as opposed to the expected $11 million), which the show recouped in just 9 months of performances!


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