The Book of Mormon Rings the Doorbell of the Broward Center
All photos by Joan Marcus
What happens when you get two of the most sarcastic and vulgar writers in television together, then sprinkle in a little music, some choreographed dancing, and organized religion?
Hello, the most amazing musical is born: The Book of Mormon. This musical will change your life.
Trey Parker (co-creator of South Park), Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), and Matt Stone (co-creator of South Park) together wrote the book, music, and lyrics for the show. Using their wit and special humor, the trio has created a musical that is not for the easily offended. Although the numbers and dialogue are clearly satirical, there are always those who may take the words of Elder Price or Elder Cunningham seriously.
Despite the show being called The Book of Mormon, Parker, Lopez, and Stone are not just poking fun at Mormons; they're pointing a finger at all organized religions. The word "Mormon" is interchangeable when Elder Price sings, "I am Mormon, and a Mormon just believes." But it is all in good fun, and not seriously meant to shake anyone's religious beliefs.
No need to take offense here if you can laugh at yourself.
The musical starts by telling the story of the Mormon religion. Here's how the show describes it: A long, long time ago, Jesus actually lived here in America, and he entrusted some golden plates to a man named Mormon, who later passed them along to his son, Moroni. According to Book of Mormon, when Jesus died and was laid to rest in his tomb in Judea, for those three days before he rose, he was actually in America.
With only minutes into the show, you can already sense that there will be plenty of puns, innuendos, and deliciously funny irony. The Book of Mormon is musical satire at its greatest.
There are mountains of references to satisfy the modern pop culture nerd -- if you're into that kind of stuff (yes, please). They've got hobbits, dark lords, members of the Starship Enterprise, and even a little green man with a walking stick who speaks in riddles. Because of copyright laws, we're sure they don't want us to use the characters' real names (Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Darth Vader, Yoda, and a Starfleet officer - Elder Cunningham was more of a Star Wars kind of guy, anyway).
We also learn that the Bible is really a trilogy, and if you're Jewish you just stick to part one, Christians and Catholics read part one and two, and the Book of Mormon is part three - in other words, it's Return of the Jedi, as Elder Cunningham puts it.
Arguably (from the standpoint of a Floridian) the best part of the show was the fact that Elder Price's favorite place in the world is Orlando. Yes, the land where Mickey lives and everyone is happy all the time, and the city that fueled his days at the Missionary Training Center.
But alas, Heavenly Father does not answer Elder Price's prayers, and instead sends him to Uganda for his two-year mission. The remainder of the show takes place in Uganda with an ensemble cast that delivered laughs and incredible dance numbers. "Turn It Off" and "Spooky Hell Dream" were two large numbers that caused the audience to gasp with excitement and applaud fiercely.
In a show with a strong ensemble cast, The Book of Mormon was lead by Mark Evans (Elder Price) and Christopher John O'Neill (Elder Cunningham) whose on stage interactions were a natural fit; the shared banter between the two was the source of many laughs. It's worth noting that the pair bore striking resemblances to the original Elder Price and Cunningham, Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad.
Almost every song in the production was a memorable one, and the performers were sure to sing them justly.
The Book of Mormon will be playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts from now until December 22. Tickets range from $44.50 to $159.50, depending on performance day and time. Visit browardcenter.org.
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