I was thrilled to have a ticket for opening night of The Book of Mormon in Indianapolis. I had been looking forward to seeing this show for ages.
When I told some friends I was seeing The Book of Mormon, they said they love going to the pageant every year.
“Um, I’m not going to the Hill Cumorah Pageant. I’m going to The Book of Mormon. There’s an enormous difference.”
The pageant is a wholesome family-friendly event, rated “G.” The Broadway show, which won nine (9) Tony Awards, gets a big, bold flashing neon “R” rating.
For those unfamiliar with the Hill Cumorah Pageant, every year, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints puts on a grand show about their origin, near Palmyra, New York. I am including the link to the pageant, in case you are curious. Although I have never been, I have heard it is quite the spectacle and fun for the whole family. http://www.hillcumorah.org/Pageant/
The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is a religious satire musical about two Mormon missionaries sent to Uganda. Here is a link to the opening number that was performed on network television at the 2012 Tony Awards. I love the interaction with other stars, you will too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy5K8ApSzhI
The Book of Mormon was written by the South Park guys, not the South Pacific guys. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are not Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although the latter might be impressed with the former’s orchestral score, they might have been appalled with the profanity peppered throughout the lyrics.
I was not appalled. I was amused and entertained. I know…I hear gasping from all directions. I can feel prayers being offered up to save my soul. Sorry gentle readers, but I go to the theater to be entertained. I knew what the show was about before I bought my ticket. So, I was prepared.
As I flipped through the Playbill, I noticed that the Mormons had bought three pages of advertising space. I thought that was awesome. They were not protesting or picketing, they bought advertising, which in turn supported the show. Obviously, they can take a joke. So, we should be able to as well.
The Murat Theatre was jam-packed. I am guessing that the show was sold out. Unfortunately, the air conditioning was not working. So we were dying of heat. But the show went on!
The performances by the cast members were stellar. Very high energy. You could tell they loved what they were doing. You saw it in their facial expressions. You heard it in the notes they sang. You felt it in the steps they danced. This troupe was having a blast. From what I observed, most of the audience members enjoyed it as much as I did.
The satire and social commentary were sharp and in your face. Did some of it go too far? Yes. Could they have cut out all of the swearing? Most definitely. But then it would not have had the same impact.
Parker and Stone are smart and witty creative geniuses. They are not about decency and decorum. They are about shock and awe. All of their works are over-the-top by design. They get people talking about controversial social issues. And that is the point. They are forcing a dialogue. In that, they have succeeded. Not to mention, they have made millions of dollars in the process. Good for them.
If I still went to confession every week, this week’s session would start like this, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I loved The Book of Mormon and would definitely see it again.”
The priest might give me five Our Fathers, ten Hail Marys and a Glory Be as my penance. But it would be worth it!
Yes, I highly recommend this show, but only to people who are not easily offended. This show is not for ultra-conservative, deeply devout and/or religious people. The material is blasphemous and sacrilegious. If you will be making the sign of the cross or searching for your rosary beads when the “F” word and “God” are uttered in the same sentence, then do not go. I repeat, do not go.
There might have been more “F” bombs dropped during this show than on any Sopranos episode, and I believe it rivaled the total in most Quentin Tarantino films.
A dismayed friend could not understand how I enjoyed this performance. It was a clever artistic piece of work. Just because I appreciate a performance does not mean that I am going to stop believing in God or that I am going to run around swearing up a storm.
I am Catholic, and I pray at least one rosary every day. But I can still laugh when something is smart and funny. And I never say the “F” word, let alone the “F” word and “God” in the same sentence. So, I think I’m good. But just in case, I’ll do my self-imposed penance anyway!
For more information on The Book of Mormon, here’s the official link: http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/
Copyright © 2014 by Suzanne Purewal