Broadway’s highly regarded The Book of Mormon is playing a short engagement this week at the Saenger Theatre. The comical and exceptionally entertaining musical is part of the Broadway Across America tour, and runs from Tuesday March 9 through Sunday March 13.
From the creators of South Park-- and in typical South Park style-- The Book of Mormon isn’t especially kid-friendly, nor a good show for the easily offended or those who take themselves too seriously. It’s extremely inappropriate, slightly raunchy, violent, sexual, irreligious… and one of the funniest darn things I’ve seen in quite a while. This is a show for those who have a good sense of humor, enjoy satire, don’t mind pushing the boundaries of good taste, and who want to laugh themselves to tears. Even if you can’t appreciate the hilarity of the themes, you’ll be sure to get caught up in the catchy Tony Award-winning tunes, or the make-you-want-to-get-up-and-dance choreography. You’ll leave the theater with both the music and the off-color jokes stuck in your head. And personally, I went home and promptly downloaded the musical recording from iTunes.
Saying that this show gently pokes fun of religion would be like saying that Donald Trump has a gentle demeanor. The Book of Mormon outright mocks religion, and the Mormon religion in particular. God forbid. And for the love of God, it’s downright hysterical.
The musical follows a couple of do-gooder Mormons, Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand) and Elder Price (Ryan Bondy), as they travel to Uganda, Africa, to bring their religion and their beloved Book of Mormon to an impoverished village. They join other Mormon missionaries there to try to convert the disillusioned natives to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This musical explores such controversial topics as AIDS, female circumcision, hell, racism, bestiality… and maggots in the genital area (yes, it’s true). There’s plenty of blatant sex, lots of dirty words, a sprinkling of bathroom-related humor, even a touch of child pornography. But it handles even the touchiest of subjects (enter Hitler) with so much funny stuff (and enough Star Wars references) to lighten the mood. You’d have to be dead not to at least work up a chuckle. Meanwhile, the rest of the audience and I were howling with laughter.
But there are plenty of mushy parts too. Despite the fact that the musical so unabashedly makes fun of religion, it still embraces many of the things most religions universally preach: friendship, compassion, humanity, sacrificing for your fellow man…
Tickets for the show on Broadway in New York City go for up to almost $500 and are very hard to come by, as the show is so popular it is often sold out. But here in New Orleans, tickets can be had for as low as $25. Take advantage of this divine bargain while the show is still in town.
“This book will change your life,” the chorus sings during the closing number of The Book of Mormon. I can definitely say, the show will change your life as well.
For more information or to buy tickets, check out the Saenger Theatre website.