Monday, 10 July 2017

Book of Mormon

Mormon Elder Cunningham tries to convert Ugandans to Jesus Christ
We saw another show that I have been wanting to see for several years -- Book of Mormon.

Again it was a packed show at the Eugene O'Neill Theater, but we didn't have to line up around the block just to get in.

The premise of the story is funny -- a do-gooder Mormon missionary called Elder Kevin Price is considered the most qualified to go on his mission and hopes he'll be posted to Orlando, but he is sent to of all places -- Uganda -- with Elder Arnold Cunningham -- who likes to embellish things... a lot.

Everyone looks up to Elder Price as the model Mormon
It starts off hilarious, with side jokes here and there, but then things start getting really crass -- lots of f-words and outrageous lines that are definitely sung and spoken to get attention and cheap laughs.

But after a while when you swear too many times, the audience gets numbed by it and loses its effectiveness, let alone shock value.

We still enjoyed the storyline, but was the excessive amount of profanities that necessary? We were pretty much cringing towards the end and wondered how it would all end...

Both the leads were fantastic strong singers and the leader of the Mormon group in Uganda was really funny as he had gay tendancies he tried to hide. The most hilarious song had to be Turn It Off, when Elder Price is told to "turn off" his concerns about confronting a Ugandan warlord, much like the Mormon leader being attracted to men.

The lyrics are written by Robert Lopez, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the latter two famous for South Park, and so you know you're probably in for some crass humour, and took seven years to finally get performed on stage.

Funny satire on Mormons but a lot of swearing in it!
Stone and Parker grew up in Colorado and so they were very familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints. When they were researching for the musical they went to Salt Lake City and interviewed missionaries and former ones, so in a way the audience can tell the musical may poke fun at Mormons, it doesn't slam them completely, that faith, hope and optimism are really important to everyone.

When the musical came out in 2011, the church issued a "measured", saying: "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".

There isn't much the church can do since it was a Tony-award winning show and has traveled around to several countries. Doubt it would make it to Hong Kong though!

Book of Mormon
Eugene O'Neill Theatre
230 West 49th Street
New York

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