Mik - What is your name?
Me - Stephanie
Me - Stephanie
Me - Sure.
I love theater; this is not news, just a reminder. A friend of mine lent me his copy of a new musical to listen to. I have not seen this musical, only listened to the soundtrack, but I would like to share my views on it. And since this is my blog I get to do what I want.
The Book of Mormon musical opened on Broadway to mostly positive acclaim. It is nominated for many Tony awards, including Best Musical. To be honest it will probably win. Which is a shame. This was not a good musical.
I am sure critics of my review will claim that I do not like this musical because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon.) I have a pretty healthy sense of humor. I can take and make jokes about my religion. And in actuality the Mormon jokes in this musical were not offensive to me. There were some lyrics that contained false doctrine. Whatever, a musical about the Catholic Church would probably include some jabs about recent scandals involving priests which is not indicative of what the Catholic Church is or believes. I get it. That is not at all what I found offensive.
I was offended by the authors making light of the conditions in Africa. The story revolves around two young Mormon missionaries sent to Uganda to preach the Gospel. These two white, young men (19 years old) from Salt Lake were sent far away to a land and culture that is foreign to them. In Africa they find that 80% of the people they are sent to teach have AIDS, that warlords terrorize their families, and that some of the cultural beliefs of the people are vastly different than those from home. The African people curse God for their situation in life, and conditions in which they are forced to live. The musical goes on to talk about the atrocities that happen to the defenseless, i.e. infants and virgins. If these things truly happen, they are not funny and should not be made light of.
I was offended by the language. I am by no means a prude. We had a missionary stay at our house this week on his way to the Missionary Training Center and I had to promise my mother I would not swear in front of him. There are two swear words I will not say and many other words that just are offensive to me. This musical has every word I will not say ... multiple times. The f-word is particularly prevalent. In addition they take the name of the Lord in vain many times. One particularly jaunty number in the musical is the African people singing literal curses to God. Over. And over. And over again.
I was offended by the tone. I have seen musicals with dark or hard content before. Rent and The Color Purple are both a little harsh in language and subject matter but they really tell the story as opposed to make fun of the situation. They made fun of the situation in Africa, like I said already, and there are very explicit sexual jokes in the show. I have a rule that if I can sit next to my mother during something and not feel uncomfortable it is probably alright. You know instead of WWJD (What would Jesus do?) I live by WWMW (What would Mom watch?) and this ain't it kid!
I was not offended by the jokes about Mormons, though it is fraught with inaccuracies on the Mormon Church. I do hope that everyone who walks into the show knows that it is a sacrilegious romp. The musical, at least the released soundtrack, has little scriptural basis for any of it. Unless you believe that Mormons believe in Boba Fett and Mordor (from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings respectively) or that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were equal to African warlords in the things they did before they were visited by God and angels. Anyone who believes that what is being "taught" as fact deserves to be lied to. Of course, what should I expect from the creators of South Park and Avenue Q?
The overlaying lesson that I took from the story of The Book of Mormon musical is that we all need to fight for our beliefs and question what we have faith in; that when life is bad, we may question our faith, we may have doubts, but we should fight for our answers and for a better life. It is alright to dream and aspire for a better life; in fact, it is our right as human beings. The show actually has a good moral message, if you can get past the offensive language ... which I just cannot.
The music for this show is great. It is catchy and upbeat like a good musical should be. If the lyrics for the musical were not offensive to me it probably would be a new favorite musical. I think it is a shame that this wonderful music was filled with sexual references, foul language, and offensive content. I honestly do not know which song they will choose to perform at the Tony's because of the language and content. Then again, if it were not an offensive romp, a story about The Book of Mormon probably would not be on Broadway, nominated for a Tony.
Bottom line, would I recommend this musical to anyone? No. I would not. In fact, I have told some of my musical loving friends to steer clear of it. This musical could have been great without the offensive content. That is my review.