I know this is a film blog, and my “expertise” (I don’t consider myself an expert yet) is not stage production, but I do have a love for musicals and broadway, and I couldn’t help but share my enthusiasm and excitement for what I just witnessed over this past weekend. There’s a reason why The Book of Mormon, created by the genius team of Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park, Team America) won 9 Tony Awards in 2011. It is, hands down, the best musical I’ve ever seen.
Now I’ve only seen approximately 10-15, which is somewhat of an accomplishment for myself, but in regards to knowing musicals, it’s microscopic. I wish I could see more, but Chicago isn’t New York in terms of broadway. But regardless, I’ve seen some of the big ones, and my gosh, Book of Mormon blows it out of the water. The balance of music, book, dance, and plot perfectly embodies a brilliant production.
The plot is focused on two Mormon partners, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who are set to Uganda to join their other fellow missionaries to spread the church of Latter-Day Saints on the impoverished people of Africa. Unfortunately they encounter a ruthless warlord dismembering women’s parts, and they must figure out a way to save these people from persecution while dealing with their own struggles with faith and friendship.
If you didn’t know, character development in musicals is expressed through song, and sometimes, musicals fail in this department, not allowing the character to express their feelings and struggles, but seem like more of an opportunity to give the spotlight to the actors or actresses. And as a musical, you can’t over-consume your production with song after song without providing some diversity and excitement. The Book of Mormon is the epitome of a well-balanced, thought out musical creating an amazing equation between humor, depth, and melody. The music is top notch, but that shouldn’t a surprise considering Parker and Stone come from a musical background doing numerous venues including being nominated for an Oscar.
But what works the best here is their religious message not just for Mormons, but for all religions in general, and the importance of faith, though ridiculous at times, and how challenging it is for any region around the world to accept your own personal beliefs and doctrines. I really appreciated the honesty and realistic reactions people may have about God and His ways, and though it may be offensive to some, it really is truthful in terms of how some may see religion in other parts of the world. Though offensive and brash, it never crosses the line completely (well for me at least) leaving the audience with the humility to laugh at yourself but also recognize the point it’s trying to make.
There are some things in here that are just flat out amazing and hilarious. I refuse to say anything about the musical because it ruins the surprise and experience. But all I know is that I can hype this musical all I want, and it won’t be half as close as what you’ll see on stage because it’s that original. For any musical fan, this is the musical of our generation, and for anyone who’s ever struggled with religion, faith, or just likes to laugh, this is that production.
Book of Mormon has been rumored for film production soon, and obviously Parker and Stone would be behind the creative origins for this film, which is necessary. If and when this is true, Book of Mormon will be a gem on screen. But if you want the best experience, go get a ticket (though that’s very difficult right now).