The LeSabre

“The Book of Mormon,” is it worth seeing?

Creators of the infamously vulgar television show “South Park” construct the musical “Book of Mormon” in 2011, a parody of the Mormon religion that audiences are hesitant to attend.

photo via Picasa under the creative commons license

photo via Picasa under the creative commons license

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Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez created “The Book of Mormon.” This show follows two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as they go two-by-two to their selected mission location in northern Uganda. By seeing this show with my own eyes and interviewing others who have seen it as well (or just enjoy the soundtrack), I have heard a variety of opinions about this musical.

Personally, I thought the entire musical and performance aspect was spot on. The choreography was extremely well-rehearsed, very sharp and clean, and it made you want to start dancing with them. Some jokes that specifically poked fun at Mormons were actually funny, but only because they were somewhat true. Being an actual Mormon myself, I am used to the cliché jokes and stereotypes that are associated with it.

That being said, I was so shocked by the over-the-top jokes that made me cringe more than laugh. The majority of the story line was extremely vulgar and not at all accurate about how Mormons act. The missionaries are portrayed as very flamboyant and effeminate. My brother went on his mission about three years ago, and he took it very seriously; to see this show making fun of it was offensive to me. Also, the language was very explicit and in some scenes the f- bomb was dropped about every five seconds. My discomfort while watching this performance increased as I realized that my mother was watching the same thing.

My mother is a loyal Mormon also, and she was not pleased after she saw this musical. After interviewing her with questions like “What did/didn’t you like?”; “Would you see it again?”; “Would you recommend it to others?”; and “As a Mormon yourself, were you entirely offended?”, she responded saying, “As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I anticipated that I might be a little sensitive to the content of the musical ‘The Book of Mormon’.  But I consider myself to be open minded when it comes to art and theatre, so I thought I could handle a show that poked fun at some of my beliefs. And while I was able to find the humor in some of the acts in the show, such as the missionary who dreams he is in hell with the likes of Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer because he stole a maple doughnut and broke a mission rule, I was completely unprepared for the level of crudeness injected into the script by the writers.  Yes, I was offended by “The Book of Mormon,” but not because I am a Mormon.  I just do not find concepts such raping babies as a way to cure AIDS and bloody diarrhea to be funny.  I was so astonished that the people sitting around me thought these and other equally crude topics were hilarious.” In contrast to her disapproval, others whom I interviewed had quite opposite views on the show.

Laura Carlson

Laura Carlson

 

 

Laura Carlson, a junior at SHS, attended The Book of Mormon in May, 2016. I asked Laura similar questions as my mom.  She replied saying, “I really enjoyed how everything blended together into the story. It was good to see something that shifted so well and had phenomenal actors and hilarious characters. They rocked my socks off! I did not like that I went to it with my very Catholic father because he gave me very dirty looks at moments where I laughed when I probably shouldn’t have. I would 100% see the show again, and I would recommend that others see it. My favorite character was Elder Cunningham because he kept hilariously mispronouncing the character Nabulungi’s name with words such as Neosporin and Nicollet Mall.

 

 

 

Blayne Gardner

Blayne Gardner

Blayne Gardner, also a junior at SHS, attended the show with me back in May 2016. I interviewed him with similar questions and he responded, “I thought the show was incredibly funny, I loved all the songs in the show, and I thought all the actors were on point. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like but some of the jokes were a little too inappropriate. I actually went and saw it a second time. Oh yeah, I would definitely recommend the show to others. My favorite song was The All American Prophet because I enjoyed the vibe, the humor, and that it was very different from the other songs.”

Autumn Fosteson

Autumn Fosteson

Autumn Fosteson, a senior at SHS, has not seen the musical live but has listened to the soundtrack. I asked her the following questions: “Have you listened to the Book of Mormon soundtrack and if yes, do you like it?, “What is your favorite song and why?”, “Have you heard about the inappropriate material in it?”, and “Would you consider or are you going to see it?”. She answered saying, “Yes, I have listened to the soundtrack and yes of course I like it.  My favorite song is Turn It Off because when I listen to it, I can’t get over how provocative it is. I have not necessarily heard of the inappropriate material, but I have read the basic storyline and the music hints at the explicit content. I would love to see the show live, and it is actually on my theatre bucket list of shows to see.”

 

Personally, I would not see the show again. The inappropriate moments made me really uncomfortable, especially knowing my mom was in the same room. As for recommending the shows to others, I would say they should expect extreme language, vulgar scenes, and constant sexual references. Therefore, if you are easily offended or sensitive to inappropriate material, I would stay away from this show. It is definitely not a show for younger kids. But, if you have listened to the soundtrack and truly enjoy the music, definitely take advantage of seeing the songs performed live. It has incredible musical talent and very skilled choreography and those aspects are so enjoyable to watch.

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