‘The Book of Mormon” returns to Seattle, where the second national tour company plays January 2-14th at The Paramount Theatre.
And it’s naughty and nice–just as irreverent, risqué, and politically incorrect, as ever. As one critic wrote, “It manages to offend, provoke laughter, trigger eye-rolling, satirize conventions, and warm hearts, all at the same time.”
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the naughty boys of “South Park,” teamed up with Robert Lopez, one of the co-creators of “Avenue Q,” for “The Book of Mormon” (BOM), which satirizes anything and everything — from proselytizing and African dictators to poverty, Jesus, throwing in AIDS jokes and songs about closeted Mormons. Stone famously described the show as “an atheist’s love letter to religion.”
Seven years went into the creation of BOM, featuring book, music and lyrics by Parker, Lopez and Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park,’ while Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, ”Avenue Q.” The musical is choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, and co-directed by Nicholaw and Parker.
BOM follows two Mormon missionaries, the talented, eager Elder Price (Kevin Clay, his national tour debut) and the nerdy, pathologically lying Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson), travel to Africa, where they attempt to share their scriptures with the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. The earnest young men are challenged by the lack of interest of the locals, who are preoccupied with more pressing troubles such as AIDS, famine, and oppression from the one-eyed, genocidal, local warlord (based on an actual Liberian warlord who went into battle wearing shoes and a gun. just shoes and a gun).
Nominated for 14 Tony Awards in 2011, BOM walked away with nine, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction, Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design, and Best Orchestrations. BOM also received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award or Best Musical.
There are numerous revealed changes from original script to final production. A song named “Family Home Evening,” which was in early workshops of the show, was cut. The warlord in Uganda was called General Kony in previews but later changed to General Butt Fucking Naked. The song “The Bible Is A Trilogy” went
An earlier version was based around how the third movie in movie trilogies is always the best one which led to a recurring “Matrix” joke where a Ugandan man said “I thought the third “Matrix” was the worst one” which later changed to “I have maggots in my scrotum” in the rewritten version. The song “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” was originally called “H-E Double Hockey Sticks.”
The musical remains controversial. Although BOM may not be to everyone’s taste (the musical is certainly not for minors), ????? . Stone, Parker, and Lopez are known for their take-no-prisoners, nothing-is-sacred approach to humor. These potty-mouth creators do not refrain from using explicit language. And there’s enough off-color insouciance to offend church ladies of every denomination.
Don’t go if you’re easily offended. But if you do, don’t take anything seriously. And if you have a warped sense of humor, all the better.
“The Book of Mormon” runs Jan. 2-14 at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre; tickets start at $40 and are available on-line at available at STGPresents.org, by calling 1-800-745-3000, or in person at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm). FYI: The show’s producers are offering a lottery ticket policy for the tour. In Seattle, the production will conduct a pre-show lottery at the box office, making a limited number tickets available at $25 apiece.
The Creative Team
Music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
Book, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
Direction, Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
Choreography, Casey Nicholaw
Set design, Scott Pask
Costume design, Ann Roth
Lighting design, Brian MacDevitt
Sound design, Brian Ronan
Orchestrations, Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus
Music direction and vocal arrangements, Stephen Oremus.