Review + photos: The Book of Mormon is a godsend!
The Book of Mormon finally arrived in Denver, freighted with a massive weight of hype, slick marketing, praise and excitement for this musical created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, both Colorado natives. The show had sold out within hours last January, with friends posting photographs of themselves holding tickets on Facebook; other friends responded with likes and/or bitter lamentations about their own ticketless plight. The New York Times's Ben Brantley had hailed the musical as the kind that left our grandparents "walking on air if not on water" -- but nothing could be that good, I thought.
All photos by Joan Marcus, 2012
- The Book of Mormon opening night: What the ticket holders had to say
- The Book of Mormon: Twenty reasons you've got to see it, courtesy the cast and crew
- Denver's toughest tickets: Did Mumford, Book of Mormon or GABF make the list?
So on the way to the touring show's opening night Sunday, my friend and I discussed scalping our tickets, figuring we'd get no less than $500 a piece.
We're glad we didn't (and not just because that would have been wrong): The Book of Mormon IS that good. The show is smart, cheeky, raunchy, irreverent and also surprisingly and exuberantly good-hearted.
Gavin Creel as Elder Price.
I was happy when I'd first heard that Parker and Stone were taking on Mormonism; I remember with pleasure a merciless South Park episode on the topic. And my opinion of the Mormon presidential candidate couldn't be expressed even in Westword, the sole news medium that would allow the name of one of the characters, General Buttfuckingnaked, into print. (When the on-stage Joseph Smith refused to reveal the location of the golden plates that would prove his parley with Christ had really happened, I couldn't stop laughing. Tax returns, anyone?) But while there's plenty of Mormon mockery, the ending -- which has to do with the power of myth and the limits of rationality -- works beautifully.
The story concerns two young Mormons sent to Uganda as missionaries. Elder Price is tall, handsome and idealistic, Elder Cunningham a bumbling little shlub. In Uganda, they discover problems well beyond their understanding: There's widespread hunger; women suffer clitoridectomies; AIDS-stricken men believe they can cure themselves by raping babies; the General terrorizes the village.
Continue reading for the rest of the review.