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J.R.

Bloomer

History of Musical Theater

Dr. Tim Baxter-Ferguson

The Book of Mormon

Book:

Musical Title: The Book of Mormon

Music, Lyrics and Book: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone

Performance History:

The Book of Mormon was the result of collaboration between Robert Lopez and Trey parker and

Matt Stone. They first began working together after the South Park duo saw Avenue Q on

Broadway. The show opened on Broadway in 2011 and starred Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad.

After Andrew Rannells left, his standby, Nic Rouleau, took over.The show went on National Tour

2012 and a Chicago production was staged in 2012, and starred Ben Platt as Elder Cunningham.

The show is currently still open on Broadway and Nic Rouleau is still there.

Critical Reception:

The show was pretty universally praised. The references to popular musical theater were praised.

Ben Brantley of the New York times said it both makes fun of and ardently embraces the all-American

art form of the inspirational book musical. No Broadway show has so successfully had it both ways since

Mel Brooks adapted his film The Producers for the stage a decade ago."

The music was also praised. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Time said The songs, often

inspired lampoons of contemporary Broadway styles, are as catchy as they are clever.

Memorable Quotes:
In this part of Africa, we all have a saying - whenever something bad happens, we just throw

our hands up to the sky and say HASA DIGA EEBOWAI!

This song is one of the most memorable songs in the show for a couple of easons. For one, this

song has incredibly offensive language- though Im kind of desensitized to it at this point. This song

shocks and is so ridiculous that it's that memorable. Up until this point, only the mormons have had songs,

and this song is a big contrast from those songs.

And as long as we stick together

And I stay out of your way -

Out of my way!

We can change the world

Forever

And make tomorrow a latter day!

me!

This is a pretty flimsy reason for this being a memorable quote/song, bt it sounds like the Wizard

and I and that makes me laugh. Also, I sang this with Jamaas. Apparently when they were originally

working on this song, it became so ungodly high because Andrew Rannells was trying to show off, and

apparently this became the song that Andrew Rannells had the most trouble with every night because of

how high it became. Oh, Andrew, your hubris was your downfall.

Summary:

Two Mormon missionaries, Price and Cunningham, are paired together to go on a mission to

Uganda. Elder Price would rather be going to his favorite place on earth, Orlando, but he has no choice.

When they get to Africa, they find the local people dont want to liste to their scripture teachings, and

instead have other concerns, such as AIDS and a warlord. After a point, Elder Price gets fed up and tries
to leave, and in the process leaves Elder Cunningham, a violation of Mormon rules. Meanwhile, Elder

Cunningham is left behind to try and teach the African people about Mormonism, but ends up making uo

crazy things about scripture, like fucking a frog to get rid of AIDS. The African people are more willing

to listen to this crazy teaching, and a lot of them get baptized. This impresses some of the leaders of the

church, and they come down, where the Africans put on a dramatic retelling of all the crazy stuff that

Elder Cunningham has taught them. They then create their own religion and go on spreading the Book of

Arnold (Cunningham).

ALso, ELder Price does a lot of stuff, but ultimately his journey becomes less interesting than the

main plot of Elder Cunningham teaching the African people. Elder Price has a dream of hell and then

resolves to spread his religion and marches into the generals camp. This doesnt go well. He also gets

drunk on coffee, and finds himself unsure of his faith in the end.

Themes:

1. Religion is dumb: I think the show is trying to say that all religion is dumb, but people will

always find religion to apply to their struggles. Elder Cunninghams made up religious

teachings, while ridiculous, speak to the African people more than the Mormon religion itself

did.

2. Question faith: Elder Price ends up, instead of blindly following his faith, ends up

questioning his beliefs after living out in the world for a while. This is portrayed as a good

thing in the musical. He is ultimately shown to be wiser in the end after his journey, and

getting drunk on coffee.

Why:

This musical deserves its place in history as a pretty good example of a successful satire. Clearly,

something about it definitely made audiences love it, as it is still on Broadway after a few years.
I dont think this musical tried very hard to express any serious themes, or change an audience's

mind about anything. Unlike other shows, like Rent, that try to portray serious issues to make an audience

think about them, Book of Mormon is mostly just dumb fun.

THe show, however, is a great example of an integrated musical. Songs flow directly out of

dialogue and express the characters who sing them. While Memphis has some flimsy reasons for songs,

and the plot kind of just stops in Memphis when songs start, in Book of Mormon, every song advances

the plot very well. Though this is norm, and every successful musical now is expected to be integrated, it

still does a great job of integration.

Will this show still be relevant or talked about in 10 years? Well, Im very curious to see how

much longer it lasts on Broadway. After it closes, who is to really say. I think it will still be talked about

and done.

Reader Response:

I really like the Book of Mormon. I used to like it a lot, and I think this show really is one of

those musicals that edgy teens think is really funny. While I still like the show, I more like the people

who were in it than the show itself now. I still listen to the music a good bit, but I definitely see its faults

now.

I think the score is pretty genius, however. The score feels like a Broadway score, and the fact

that a lot of the music parodies and makes subtle nods to various shows, like Wicked and SOund of

Music, makes me happy. Also, some of the music does a great job of evoking a sense of time and place.

Hasa Diga Eebowai feels very African-influenced (or at least what people think is African-influenced).

The plot is very well integrated. It definitely upholds the standard the Oklahoma set. It is very

cool to see just how far weve come since the Black Crook, which was all spectacle and no substance.

The plot is also told in a very traditional way. Honestly, this show just feels like a Broadway show. Its

grandiose, full of spectacle and has an integrated plot. It's just very crass and would probably offend a lot
of people, which Im sure it has, which kind of makes me surprised at how well it has done. I am not

religious at all anymore, so the show doesnt offend me at all, but I can definitely see how some people

would get offended. Which I guess, is the point of the show? I dont know, it's very edgy. I definitely

agree with you that it really is Adult Swim: The Musical.

I definitely think this show doesnt really do anything to make audiences think about anything,

and instead just assumes that the people who are coming to see the show already hold the same opinion as

them. Which is fine, clearly a lot of people do, but I like shows that actually try to make the audience

think about something and change their mind.

In conclusion, I really like Book of Mormon. I think the music is great, and I like a lot of the

people who have been a part of it over the years. The musical gets points off, however, for not really

having any sort of opinion about the things it is saying.