Poster of the musical The Book of Mormon. A young man in a shirt and tie holding a book of Mormon. The O in Mormon is a doorbell


Title: The Book of Mormon

Cover Story: Hello!
Drinking Buddy:
You and Me (But Mostly Me)
Testosterone Level:
Man Up!
Talky Talk:
Making Things Up Again
Bonus Factor:
Bromance Status:
I Am Here For You

Cover Story: Hello!

As with any major theater production, I was overwhelmed with the sheer scope of the set design. The African village and the Mormon Heaven were impressive, but the set for ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’ really blew me away. As for the costuming, there was nothing very original, being dominated by the standard Mormon uniform, mercenary fatigues, and semi-traditional Ugandan garb.

The Deal:

Enthusiastic but naive nineteen-year-old Kevin Price is about to embark on his two-year mission for the Mormon Church. Convinced that the Heavenly Father will hear his prayers and send him to serve in Orlando, he’s kind of blindsided when he’s assigned to a backwater village in Uganda, with clingy and nerdy Arnold Cunningham as his mission brother. To make matters worse, the Ugandan village is under the control of a deranged warlord who doesn’t like outsiders.

It’s one thing to confess your faith. It’s another to actually have to go out and live it.

On a personal note, I bought tickets for my wife as a Mother’s Day gift, at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. And, as we had all enjoyed Hamilton so much, I bought one for my daughter, Sophie, as well. My eleven-year-old daughter.

Yes, I knew this play was written by the creators of South Park so it might be a little PG-13. But heck, Sophie’s a big girl. She can tolerate a little cussing and double entendres. We let her watch The Simpsons now.

Yeah, this was one librarian who didn’t do his research.

Wait, it gets better. My sister-in-law was originally invited as well, but she had to work. So I invited my mother. The woman who wouldn’t let me watch Three’s Company as a boy, because it was too naughty.

Brian's daughter, mother, and wife at the Fox Theater in St. Louis

Drinking Buddy: You and Me (But Mostly Me)

A pitcher and glass of milk

While the two Mormon protagonists are irritating at first, you can’t help but fall in love with them. Price is very arrogant and sheltered, while Arnold is just desperate to be liked. When the pair arrive in Uganda, they find the people beset by poverty, violence and AIDS, unwilling to listen to a couple of Americans preach about the pie in the sky. Price, upon witnessing the crazed warlord shoot a guy in the face, has a major crisis of faith. Cunningham, when he hears about the vile practice that allegedly can cure AIDS, begins making up hopeful scripture (borrowing heavily from the Star Wars universe) in hopes that the Ugandans will find Mormonism relevant to their situation.

And then there’s Nabulungi, a local girl. She becomes enamored with Cunningham and his talk of a better world. After being baptized, she packs her bags, ready to leave for the earthly paradise of Sal Tlay Ka Siti.

Testosterone Level: Man Up!

In my defense, most of what we knew about of The Book of Mormon was from songs we’d heard on the Broadway station. I didn’t stop to think that maybe they only put the more family friendly songs on the air, such as ‘Hello‘, where missionary trainees practice their door to door evangelism. Instead, while sitting between my preteen daughter and my mother, we got to watch:

*The third song of the production, entitled ‘Fuck You, God’

*A discussion of female genital mutilation

*A portrayal of Joseph Smith having sex with a frog

*A portrayal of Brigham Young with a clitoris for a nose

*Kevin, having to have The Book of Mormon removed from his butt, after trying to convert the warlord

*The running gag of a guy who proclaims that he has maggots in his scrotum

Even the scene where Cunningham baptizes Nabulungi, it’s so blatantly sexual, I expected them to light up a cigarette afterwards. Now don’t get me wrong, this stuff was funny with a capital F. But now I can no longer look down on the parents who let their kids watch Deadpool.

I can’t believe Jesus called me a dick!

Talky Talk: Making Things Up Again

This show was funny as hell, with each song being a NSFW laugh riot. And underneath all the raunchiness, there are a few good messages. How many of us, on both sides of the political scale, talk a good game about the underprivileged, without really doing anything to help? How many faithful people have their moments of doubt? How many of us love our brother, while not actually liking him?

I think creators were smart in choosing the Mormons to pick on, as they’re about the nicest people in the world and probably the only religion without a violent faction.

Bonus Factor: Mormonism

Large Mormon temple

In terms of world religions, Mormons are kind of the new kids on the block, and let’s face it, the popular kids haven’t exactly been welcoming. They’ve been condemned as heretics or mocked for their beliefs. And this musical kind of does both. At the same time, pretty much any religion sounds silly when you use the straw man argument. Especially my own.

Bromance Status: I Am Here For You

While I certainly should have waited a couple of years to take my daughter (and never have taken my mother), Sandy and I had a fun old time, nonetheless. And fortunately, my mother is still talking to me. She’s taking Sophie to see Gypsy in a couple of weeks, but is worried that it may be too raunchy for her. As for us, we’ve learned our lesson and will only be taking Sophie to family-friendly musicals from now on. I’ve got tickets for something innocent with puppets. I think it’s called Avenue Q.

Hi, would you like to change religions? I have a free book written by Jesus!

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.