What can you call a musical that violates every sensibility, crosses every boundary, skewers cultural and social decorum, is vulgar, tasteless and downright offensive? You call it the multi Tony Award (9, including Best Musical) winning show “The Book of Mormon” now open at the Broward Center.
The show, created by “South Park’s” Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with “Avenue Q” creator Robert Lopez should tell you everything you need to know about where this show is going to go. If that doesn’t do it, the parental warning on the ticket would. But if you need more – they don’t even list the songs in the program, because some of the titles are extreme, to say the least. At its worst “The Book of Mormon” is an equal-opportunity diatribe. At its best, and in the true spirit of “South Park”, the show is rude, crude, silly and juvenile. And at times is very funny.
The story revolves around two Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to convert the masses. From there Elder Price (Mark Evans) and Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O’Neill) do their version of the door-to-door mission work. Along the way comes the beautiful Nabulungi (Samantha Marie Ware) the symbol of the faith and hope that perhaps everyone aspires to with religion. There's also a one-eyed warlord, a tribal leader who has big trouble with God, a tribesman who has big trouble with maggots living in a certain part of his anatomy and Elder McKinley (Grey Henson) the leader of another group of Mormons who run the gamut from the dance line of a high-camp Busby Berkeley musical number (sparkling red vests and all) to the chorus in “Priscilla, Queen of The Desert”.
For their parts, the cast deals with the script and music as best they can. A few numbers stand out like, “Turn It Off”, “Man Up”, “Baptize Me” and “I Am Africa” but overall it’s not great music. The script seems, at times, like an overwritten episode of the TV show (hmmmm…wonder where that comes from) with bits that go on too long and story lines that drag, particularly in the 2nd act.
In the end, suffice it to say, “The Book of Mormon” is satire at its best - and worst. If offends most everyone who has a scintilla of caring in their body. But, it is satire – and it is designed to offend and get us thinking about the world (specifically religion) around us. With apologies for associating it to the true genre, it’s theatre of the absurd to the max.
If you not a fan of the juvenile humor that is the hallmark of “South Park” you may find “The Book of Mormon” not quite to your liking. On the other hand, if that style of in-your-face, break you down, beat you up, humor is what you like bust out the cash and head over to the Broward Center. The show runs through December 22nd.