The Book of Mormon Musical — A Mormon’s Review

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.

Book of Mormon Musical marquee

Show tagline: “God’s favorite musical!”

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?

 

 

Other posts you might like:

Mormon Women and Careers

Media Attention Misses the Heart of Mormonism

Why Should I Adopt My Baby to Someone Else?

About Emily L

Born and raised in the West, but grew up when she moved to Boston, Emily loves big cities, traveling, experiencing different cultures, trying new places to eat and meeting people. She’s the most happy when all these interests converge. She works as a program manager for one of the geekiest universities in the world and has learned that the characters from “Revenge of the Nerds” really do exist.
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272 Responses to The Book of Mormon Musical — A Mormon’s Review

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  3. George Strum says:

    I admire the stoic attitude of LDS by not falling to pieces over this irreverent production by ignoring it as the best possible way of dealing with it. So far it has been running about four years not much compared to more successful shows like Phantom or Les Mis. Give it another year or two and it may fade away and be forgotten. I detested the song that curses God for allowing Aids to happened and I almost got up and walked out the theatre until I realize this was the frustration of the people who are devastated by disease and it became more sad than funny. Although not a Mormon and wish not to be I have a great respect for the LDS and always in awe of the beautiful Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I doubt if ever the choir will sing any of the songs and the play is really nothing and not worth wasting your time to see and isn’t worth getting upset over.

  4. Tim says:

    Nicely written article, but beware of anything put forward by the creators of southpark. When a “satire” concerning a huge institution is permitted to not only exist at all, but to win awards and enjoy global success, there must be a reason for it. And when considering who the authors of the musical are and how accurate the show is to much of the Mormon public persona, there must be some behind-the-scenes handshaking going on. For the musical to be as acceptable and inoffensive to most Mormons as the play has been choreographed to be…. let’s just say that there is an institutional hierarchy in our society that even the makers of southpark have no desire or interest to breach. I’m not saying that the play should have been made to be offensive, but these are the guys who supposedly know no boundaries. From what I’ve been reading from Mormons and others about this musical, it seems to me that these southpark “geeks” had more concerning them than simply entertaining their audience considering how relatively palatable the play evidently is.

    They did, however, perform one handy service to the audience by intimating the original meaning and purpose of the term ‘hello’.

    (from the first “number” in the play titled “hello”):

    This book will change-

    -So you won’t burn in-

    ELDER WHITE:
    Hell…O!

  5. RudolphMepe says:

    3d printing designs – 3d printer designs, ?????? 3d ???????.

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