From Godspell to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, many hit musicals have been inspired by religion. None of them can even begin to compare to The Book of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's gleefully perverse look at missionary life.
Yes, everything you've heard about this show is true. The Book of Mormon, which opens at the Orpheum Tuesday, June 24th, is full of dirty words, and those who are easily put off by strong language will want to steer clear. But for all of its rampant profanities and frank acknowledgments, at its big gooey heart, this musical by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q, is old-fashioned, toe-tapping Broadway razzle-dazzle, with uplifting themes as sweet and pure as a Rodgers and Hammerstein joint. The critically acclaimed and wildly successful show has been accurately described by Stone as an "atheist's love letter to religion." In the mold of Spamalot and Urinetown, Book of Mormon is also a cheeky love letter to the Broadway musical with clear shout-outs to Wicked, Annie, West Side Story, and The King and I.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of a group of Mormon missionaries who have been shipped to Uganda to win souls. They are immediately robbed by a despot with an unprintable name inspired by the actual Gen. Butt Naked. Things get worse before they get better in this sincere — yes, sincere — paean to the power of faith. Yes, faith.
Don't be put off by the sincerity, either. The musical number "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" contains everything anybody could possibly want from the creators of South Park all rolled up into three-and-a-half minutes of infernal choreography. Eternal damnation? Check. Ranting Adolph Hitler? Check. Johnny Cochran? Jeffrey Dahmer? Double check. Giant cups of Starbucks coffee? Oh, why the hell not?