The Book of Mormon Musical. It’s true, I saw it. And I lived to tell about it.
I have to admit, I was curious to see what all the hype was about. A Broadway musical about the Book of Mormon was an opportunity too tempting to resist.
I had read a handful of reviews, but the phrase “surprisingly sweet” from the Salt Lake Tribune’s review was the only idea sticking. I had failed to read some of the more granular reviews like the one in the New Yorker that would have probably prevented me from seeing the show.
I was born and raised in Salt Lake and have been a member of the Church my entire life. I went to Brigham Young University, I worked at the Church’s Missionary Training Center, I attend church weekly, I go to the temple several times a month, I pray often, I read my scriptures, I wear my seatbelt. You get it. I’m pretty Mormon.
I have however lived for the past six years in arguably one of the most liberal cities in the country – Boston. I have a handful of gay friends whom I love, I’m not afraid to be at a bar, I drink Diet Mountain Dew everyday and don’t’ consider “hell” or “damn” swearwords. Again, I’m pretty Mormon.
That being said, as I sat down in my seat, I felt a tinge of anxiety. What had I just paid to see? Would the next three hours prove to be only a few short minutes of tolerance until I was too uncomfortable and had to leave? As the curtain rose, it would reveal some sweet surprises and some not so sweet ones.
It’s a very well-done production. The music, the scenery, the choreography, the writing and the casting do not disappoint. I found at the end of the show I could hum almost every melody—very catchy tunes. Time flew by quite quickly (besides a few uncomfortable moments). This is Broadway and you don’t make it here with a show that does anything subpar.
It’s pretty accurate. Besides very minor details – like how one is assigned his or her mission call – the creators got all the details right. They did a great job capturing the culture, terminology and idiosyncrasies. They tell some of the history of the Church with an obvious bias and outlandishness, but I applaud the creators for at least doing their homework.
It’s highly vulgar. I tell people that the F word was said about 200 times. That’s probably a slight exaggeration, but it’s in there. A lot. You also have a few scenes with sexual innuendos involving male anatomy. I certainly would not go see the show with my parents or grandparents, but I was sitting next to a 70-year-old-woman who seemed to be having a great time. Out of about a dozen scenes, I was definitely uncomfortable for two of them.
It’s sacrilegious. Jesus speaks like a dude – hardly a language of a divine being – and uses other phrases that you’d probably never associate with Him. The resolution at the end appears to be that religion is a nice story we tell each other to give ourselves hope—a pretty narrow and flawed conclusion of something that has SO much more potential.
All in all, it’s vulgar, but fairly harmless towards the Church directly. It has about as much impact as an episode of South Park. For any believers in God – not just members of the LDS Church—you’ll probably not be wishing to see it again. (And Mormons aren’t the only ones not wishing to see it again — this “Non-Converts View ” shares some of my same points.)
I have no doubt that the show will win a few Tony Awards, however I think the Mormon church’s official statement sums it up quite nicely, “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”
I know how I feel about the show now that I’ve seen it, do you have interest in it? Or have you heard enough to dissuade you? Do you think the general public’s perceptions of Mormons will change based on the musical or its success?
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