Saturday, June 11, 2011

Finally a new award nominated Broadway show that is not a rehash of an old movie or old super hero or old band or musical era. This one actually focuses on something no one would have thought could be entertaining. Mormons. Yes, I said Mormons. And the only ones that could make an American religion entertaining is the creators of South Park. And they did.
The animators of South Park have been amusing and sometimes offending TV viewers since 1997. The creators of that series have unleashed their talents on Broadway. It must be refreshing to a lot of people because you can’t get tickets. The show is called “The Book of Mormon.” Each night there are crowds of about 200 people waiting to get a lottery ticket to PAY for tickets for that evening’s show. The show has been sold out for months at the Eugene O’Neill Theater.
Scalpers have been selling tickets for as much as $900 per seat. The lottery takes place in front of the theater and picks 10 numbers for 10 tickets each night. Part of the fun is seeing if you win a ticket. Gay guys are sad, men with their wives from Long Island are glad if they don’t win a ticket because then they can spend the rest of the night at a sports bar drinking beers.
What is all the fuss about? Well, It is a musical about Mormon Missionaries. How can that be funny? Well, it makes total sense to Trey Parker and Matt Stones. These South Park creators even had a cartoon episode on the subject about a Religion that wasn’t around for centuries but that was founded in 1830 in upstate New York by Joseph Smith.  Mormonism is an American religion.
They started creating this musical seven years ago. The story is about two young Mormons sent off to Uganda as missionaries. Andrew Reynolds plays the model missionary, Josh Yadd plays the misfit missionary. Almost like the typical Laurel and Hardy routine. Their relationship carries the show and both new and unknown actors scored Tony nominations for Best Actor in a Musical. The show earned 14 nominations including Best Musical. It is the most nominations for any play this season. Not bad for a show that has a cast of mostly guys, no female love interest . The only women are some playing Ugandan residents.
The marquee sign says A RUNAWAY HIT. The South Park Creators are grateful there was not a S placed in front of HIT. Over the years South Park has made fun of every religion. They are surprised that more people are not offended by the Musical, Just about everyone is enjoying the song about the villagers cursing god for giving them such miserable lives. Along with mocking religion there is also respect. A turning point in the play comes when the most devout missionary overcomes a crisis of faith.
The message is that if you are pure of heart and pure of faith, you have to believe it all. Spokesmen from the Mormon Church reactions to the Musical are, “Well, they might entertain you for the night but the Book of Mormon will change your life.” The show’s creator is pleased because that quote is one of the lines in the show.
No matter how much you rip into or make fun of something you should try to be positive or optimistic. It is the power of laughter that gets any story through and manages not to offend anyone.

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