The Book of Mormon is Satirical Yet Touching
Love is not about believing your partner is perfect, but about loving your partner and their faults. This simple idea is the concept that makes a comedy memorable. Anyone can be mean spirited, but to show some heart while mercilessly mocking someone, something, or, in the case of the Book of Mormon, an idea and a faith is what allows a comedy to not only become a 2011 Tony Award favorite, but find a lasting place in the soul of an audience. Go online to find cheap Book of Mormon tickets!
The Book of Mormon is no different than that first chapter of many movie franchises (oh, and it will become a movie too, if the Deadline reports of talks between the producer Scott Rudin and the creative team are true). The Broadway musical takes the Mormon religion and its doubters (in this case the inhabitants of a Uganda village plagued by war, poverty, and starvation) to an extreme. The Mormon missionaries are either disappointed (Elder Kevin Price) or searching for a place in the world (Elder Arnold Cunningham). The villagers are as crass and disrespectful of any attempt to convert them as possible. Yet, each side discovers that religion, or faith, provides what everyone needs.
Price learns that being a brother is not all about jetting off to Orlando (the best place for a Mormon to work/convert) and discovers his true faith; Cunningham finds that despite his lack of knowledge (he simply begins taking cultural references from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings when he has no answers to the villagers questions) he can still help people; and the villagers find that faith in something or someone can be uplifting in dire circumstances, though they do not feel the need to ultimately take the Book of Mormon literally.
Certainly, the Book of Mormon is not the first attempt to satirize religion, but it is one of the few attempts that is able to succeed in performing as both a work of satire and a work of respect. Trey Parker and Matt Stone certainly had the experience coming into this project to walk that difficult line. South Park, their popular Comedy Central show, remains as groundbreaking an animated series as it began, following the misadventures of four foul mouth children as they make light of the ridiculous and hypocritical adult world as only a child can.
So, once again, the Book of Mormon Broadway musical is not just a satire, but an unrestrained love affair that appreciates both the ridiculousness of organized religion and the power that faith, however tempered, can exude in the worst situations.