Broadway Titan Major Hit
October 7, 2012 by Clayton Bridges
The Book of Mormon hits theatres hard to be unbeaten for decades.
What thousands of critics – including this reporter – call the most controversial musical of all time, the Book of Mormon, sold out nearly immediately on January 22nd 2011, on the Denver Center of Performing Arts website. Within minutes from when the tickets went on sale, the website was overloaded, then crashed, and within the next hours all tickets were sold out.
The Book of Mormon, like most plays, started on Broadway, in New York City. In a matter of months after it was performed on Broadway, it racked up a myriad of awards. The Book of Mormon gathered nine Tony awards total; an achievement only a few producers would even dare to dream of: an instant hit that took Broadway by storm.
I had the rare opportunity to see this play recently on the 28th of August. Before we attended the play my parents and I went out to dinner, and as we passed the Ellie Caulkin’s Opera House, we noticed the outrageous amount of people lining up for the ticket lottery. The ticket lottery was a small ticket sale that would grant someone the opportunity to buy front row seats for $25. Normally they would be closer to 150$, so one can imagine this being the deal of a lifetime, considering the play’s immensity.
As far as the play itself goes, it was superb. As most people know, Matt Stone and Trey Parker practically get away with murder considering the insanely raunchy and possibly offensive jokes they make. They are the creators of the well-known and highly controversial television show, South Park, and are known for their bold, crass, yet intellectual and satirical humor. They’ve made 16 seasons of South Park and counting. You name it, they’ve made fun of it, especially religion. The Book of Mormon was their coupe de gråce to religion, a true blow of mercy. Although the play was named the Book of Mormon, further into the play it became quite obvious it poked fun at all religions, not just the Mormon faith.
I won’t spoil the play, but essentially it made fun of how religious stories get distorted and they’re truly just stories. I believe the authors’ general motive was attempting to explain to religious folk that people shouldn’t take biblical allegories so literally, and realize that the stories in these religious tomes are just metaphors; that they’re stories attempting to guide people in the right light, and to live moral lives. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have reflected this in several of their South Park episodes, including their episodes about Mormonism. The play used their usual satire to rip religion apart. Parker and Stone said they simply set out to show the Mormon faith, in a slightly exaggerated way. By doing so, one might think how ridiculous it sounds, and then come to realize that this is what most religious groups actually follow.
Essentially the plot includes two elders of the Mormon faith traveling to an undesirable location, and attempting to spread the word of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. But they realize that the stories in the Book of Mormon don’t affect or mean anything to the locals, so they simply change it around a little bit. Eventually the Book of Mormon’s stories get so distorted, they are essentially fictional, using ridiculously and obviously fictional characters such as Yoda, from Star Wars, The hobbits from the Lord of the Rings, and Uhura from Star Trek.
As expected, the play was hilarious. Easily the funniest play out there, which is an admirable accolade considering plays like Wicked are also incredibly funny. It was also one of the raunchiest plays I’ve ever seen in my life, and I have high doubts that I’ll ever see a raunchier play. Naturally, as an uncensored event, the creators abused that, considering the dialogue probably included profanity over 100 times. The jokes were dirty, edgy, and racy, yet the audience and I adored it.
The playgoer-wide thrill to see one of the most epic plays of all time was palpable, and a heavy aura of excitement filled the air. As I sat in the theatre, the general chat was people talking about how hard they tried to get their tickets and if given the opportunity, they didn’t care what they had to pay, they’d pay it.
Everyone waited patiently as the play began. Most sat with a look of admiration, excitement, and satisfaction as the first scene played on. By the end of the first song, the audience gave a roaring applause that I’ve only seen from the finales of other immense plays. I was amazed that the audience gave such a grand ovation after only the opening scene. I’ve never seen an audience laugh harder. Whether it’s a movie, a play, or any other spectacle, I haven’t heard quite that kind of outrageous laughter from an audience. By intermission, nearly everyone was enthralled by the play and the story line, curious to see what could possibly happen next, and eagerly awaiting fresh jokes. To some, the jokes were trite and offensive. To the majority, including myself, the jokes were very blunt, yet clever and well done.
With any edgy jokes or tender subjects like religion, naturally some people will get offended. A few people refused to laugh at some jokes, some kept completely solemn. However, the majority were amused, satisfied and went home with split sides. It would seem the general consensus was that it was an outstanding play.
In essence, the play was untouchable, and won’t be challenged for decades. Irreplaceable humor from the creators of South Park mixed in with the expertise and finesse of the men and women who worked to make this all into the great musical it was a major success. Not only was the writing great, the message staggering, and the jokes colossal, but the artistic rendering, and music itself was sublime.