On June 6th, 2013 I went to see Book Of Mormon in Toronto. The Parker/Stone production was a huge hit on Broadway and while I’ve never been much of a fan of musicals I was intrigued. M’lady and I were in the Big Smoke seeing the Stones so we pulled the trigger and bought the cheapest tickets available.
I’m pretty sure it was my only time in the Princess Of Wales Theatre. Our tickets might have been in the cheap zone but they weren’t too bad at all. We had a pretty good spot in the balcony, the soft seats were cushy and the room had one of those cliché ornate façades that gives the wandering eye something to spy.
I like South Park as much as the next guy; it’s funny and clever and over-the-top, but to be honest sometimes I find it so far over the top it gets out of reach. Such was my experience with Book Of Mormon.
I laughed, I guffawed, and I dropped my jaw in shock that bordered on disgust. Basically the story follows a couple of Mormon recruits from their door-to-door campaigning to their mission in Africa. The Mormons are an easy target I guess – to most of us they are a fringe sect that would be mysterious if they weren’t so mundane, and I can’t see them bombing theatres in protest or anything – and the musical didn’t pull any punches.
I gotta say I had a really hard time with the running gag on baby-raping. I realize that it’s a not-uncommon “cure” for AIDS in many parts of Africa but I just couldn’t laugh at it. Every time it came up it tossed a wet blanket on any mirth I could muster.
But I suppose all comedy is offensive and the Parker/Stone team have created the current pinnacle of the genre. And I have to admit that my consistent disappointment with musicals* (coupled with the fact that I haven’t seen very many) actually puts Book Of Mormon near the top of the small pile.
Actually, the only time I really enjoyed a musical was a production of Little Shop Of Horrors put on by Sock n’ Buskin, the drama troupe at my university. I was musical director and played guitar for it which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I should go see a production of Little Shop sometime and find out if I actually like it.
*Ironically, Broadway musicals have never lived up to what television and the movies have led me to expect of them.