Monday, February 25, 2013

"The Book of Mormon": The World according to Joseph Smith, and the LDS Church as per Southpark

The Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” bears the same relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that “Sister Act” (Dec.1, 2011) bears toward the Catholic Church and Vatican establishment.  BOM, however, is even more “explicit” and “irreverent”, with plenty of R-rated references and language.  Despite its popularity, anti-LDS satire does not impress quite as much with either the stagecraft or music as the anti-Vatican work.  BOM does, however, manage to ridicule logical flaws in LDS beliefs and theology. Imagine a musical on the Church of Scientology next!
The musical, still in its record run at the tiny Eugene O’Neill Theater (Jujamycn link), is by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, associated with South Park.
Matt Doyle is overwhelming as the virile young elder Price, and his less winsome sidekick Cunningham got a spirited singing from Will Blum.

The relationship between the two “elders” when the church sends them to Uganda on their mandatory missions, becomes the focus of the story. Cunningham worships Price through upward affiliation as having the manliness that Cunningham lacks. That’s visually apparent.  Price wants out and has the nightmare, one of the best sequences in the musical technically. Cunningham, left alone without his best friend, discovers a new self-confidence by rejecting the “we’ll give you the words” idea and by then making up vulgar stories to impress the natives.

The musical brings up the anti-gay issues early in the first act, but never takes up the anti-gay bill in Uganda (taking up female circumcision instead), and veers away from the gay problem generally.  But it’s fair to compare the musical to movies like “The Falls” (movies blog, Feb. 18) and “Latter Days”. The musical does have a lot to say about the culture of hucksterism and proselytizing that spills over into American business life.  

Some of the most powerful songs are "Man Up!" and "I Believe".  
The link for the musical is here.

The link for the theater chain is here. Imagine that "The Iceman Cometh" here.  A man walks into a bar and you have a five hour play.
The physical crowding in the theater is remarkable.  There is a system to get people through concessions.  The soft drinks have a sippy lid which I have never seen before, so you can take thmem back to your seats.
The art work in the “Heavens” was interesting, with a lot of different extra-solar planets hanging in the sky.  Some of them would be tidally-locked, with rings of civilization. Every good Mormon gets his own M-star planet in the afterlife. The musical does raise some questions about "what is an angel". 

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