Wednesday night the biggest show on Broadway premiered in Nashville. Surely, you have all heard of the Book of Mormon. It’s huge, it’s crazy popular, award-winning and very controversial. Before I review the show we saw in Nashville, I think I need to give you a brief synopsis.The biggest question I’ve gotten from people pertaining to the show is “Is it offensive?” And, honestly, the answer just depends on how sensitive you are.
Let me explain, The Book of Mormon is a musical that follows two brand new Mormon missionaries who are unexpectedly paired together and sent to Uganda. They imagine living on the set of Lion King while spreading the word of God and baptizing dozens of Africans into their religion. However, Uganda turns out to be the scariest place they’ve ever imagined and is riddled with disease, crime, death and people who don’t exactly trust that any God will fix all their troubles. The story that ensues is the most ridiculous, hilarious and brilliant show that’s hit Broadway (as far as I’ve seen). It sounds like a serious story, but it’s full of tap dancing, an electric guitar playing Satan, science fiction character cameos and some of the worst language you have ever heard.
So, back to that question…is it offensive? Well, if blasphemy, cursing, gay jokes, mocking of religion or suggestive moves and language offends you, then yes. This shows will probably be the most offensive form of entertainment you have ever seen. You have to remember that Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the creators of South Park) are 2 of the 3 creators of the Book of Mormon. These two men may be crude, but they are wickedly smart and talented. The show is filthy, but it’s also full of heart. The two main characters are truly trying to better the world, and you can’t help but love and root for them. Vogue magazine explains it best…
the filthiest, most offensive, and—surprise—sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway this year, and quite possibly the funniest musical ever.
We saw the show for the first time in New York and were lucky enough to see it performed by the original cast, including Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad.I can only imagine that seeing these two perform the roles they originated is equivalent to seeing Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth perform Wicked. No one can compare. Then there’s the songs. We LOVE the soundtrack to the Book of Mormon, and my favorite song is by far “I Believe”. I know every inflection and get goosebumps every time at the end, so hearing someone else sing it even slightly differently isn’t easy.
The two starts of the Book of Mormon tour group are no Andrew Rannells or Josh Gad, but they do an incredible job filling such big and talented shoes. Although, the standout star was by far, Denee Benton. She plays the lead female role, Nabulungi, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Remember her name, I am certain she is going to be huge one day.
Compared to the version we saw in NY, the tour is very close to being just as amazing. The final notes of “I believe” aren’t earth shattering, but the singing, the comedic timing, the dancing and acting are phenomenal, maybe even the best Broadway tour I’ve seen. The show has stuck with me and I have had the songs in my head all day. Actually, I have a feeling the show stuck with most people.
My favorite part about seeing the show last night was hearing the shock in the crowd as each joke got cruder, every line more offensive and song more crass. You could literally hear the room gasp and then roar with laughter. The audience definitely seemed surprised at the amount of profanity in a Broadway musical, but still appreciated the well intended story and the clever lines. I didn’t hear one negative comment as we exited the theatre.
If you ever hear of Book of Mormon coming anywhere near you, you better get online and purchase tickets the minute they’re available. Those puppies sale like hotcakes and you are going to be very sad if you miss this show. Check out their tour dates here. And, of course, remember to look at TPAC’s upcoming schedule. They’ve got some good shows coming up!