‘The Book of Mormon’ rings SoCal’s doorbell
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 21:09
The smash hit Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” winner of nine Tony awards and almost unanimous critical praise, is finally making its way to the West Coast. Tonight, the show starts its international tour with a limited 12-week engagement at the Pantages theater in Los Angeles.
The show was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who are also the two twisted minds behind the long-running Comedy Central animated series “South Park.” Parker and Stone have always been able to toe the line between childish vulgarity and sharp social commentary, which is a skill they brought with them while writing this hilarious show.
The third writer’s name may not be as immediately recognizable as the others, but he is also known for his warped sense of humor. Robert Lopez’s previous musical “Avenue Q” is an adult parody of Sesame Street which balances raunchy humor with heart. One of the famous songs from that show is titled “The Internet is for Porn,” so he is no stranger to R-rated lyrics.
The plot involves two Mormon missionaries named Elder Kevin Price (Gavin Creel) and Elder Arnold Cunningham (Jared Gertner) who are sent to Uganda to attempt to convert some of the Ugandans to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Upon arrival, the two naïve missionaries have their faith tested when they realize that the Ugandan village is ravaged with famine, poverty and AIDS.
Though the adult themes, heavy subject matter and religious references may turn some people off, reviewers of the Broadway production have praised the show’s optimism and heart. Though the production satirizes religion and religious believers, it also portrays them as well-meaning and optimistic in the face of adversity. In an interview with ABC, Matt Stone referred to the show as “an athiest’s love letter to religion.”
Stone and Parker grew up in Colorado, which is also the setting for “South Park.” The close proximity to Utah made them very familiar with people of the Mormon faith, and they have shown a fascination with the religion in both South Park and their previous works.
The musical’s soundtrack was released last year and has become incredibly popular. The song “Hasa Diga Eebowai” hilariously lampoons “Hakuna Matata” from Disney’s “The Lion King,” which has also been turned into a full-scale Broadway production.
If you’re unable to get tickets for a certain night, the Pantages theater has agreed to a lottery policy, where a certain amount of tickets will be put up for lottery before each show. In order to be included in the raffle, guests have to arrive two and a half hours before the performance and put their names into a drawing. It takes dedication, but it may pay off in the end.
Parker and Stone have proven themselves in the past to be vicious satirists while providing a surprising amount of sweetness when they need to. After countless awards and accolades, it’s exciting that the people of Southern California will finally get to see what the buzz is all about.