As an active, practicing Mormon (another term for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), I feel like I should write a review of the musical from a Mormon perspective.
Bear in mind this is NOT the official Church response to the musical, but rather, my personal opinion having seen the show as one who has served a mission for the Church and is still active in the faith.
I'm not going to write a full synopsis of the musical, but rather, tell you about my experience.
Due to the incredibly high demand for this show (it won 9 Tony awards), it's pretty much sold out for the next six months. Occasionally you can buy a ticket the day of the musical but they normally go for around $500.
However, they do have some options for people who can't afford tickets like that. The day of the performance, they sell standing room tickets to the performances for $30. They also do a lottery drawing for each performance to buy tickets for $30 (the odds are slim for the lottery, because about 300 people show up and they only sell about 20 tickets).
I decided to show up and wait in line for the standing room only tickets. I hopped on a midnight bus from Boston to NYC. I got NYC around 4:30 a.m. and got in line around 5:00 a.m. for the 2:00 p.m. matinee performance.
I wasn't the first person in line. There was a guy there, Chris, who had been waiting since 2:00 in the morning. It was his sixth time seeing the musical.
|Chris - a friend I made in line.|
As we waited, people began mingling with the other people in line.
One woman, who was there with her 18 year old (roughly) daughter came up to visit with me. She asked where I was from and responded, "Utah". I could tell that she immediately wanted to ask if I was LDS, but she hesitated because I think she didn't want to offend me.
Before she could ask, I said, "Yes, I'm a Mormon".
Now, I've served a two-year LDS mission in Alaska (the greatest experience of my life until I got married to Kelsey) and have talked to hundreds, if not thousands, of people about the Church. But I've never had a reaction quite the one I received from this woman.
This woman, as well as the other dozen people within earshot, immediately looked at me with a look of amazement, disbelief, and excitement. None of them could believe that I was actually a member of the Church.
I explained that I was a member of the Church and that I had served a mission as well. That I had worn the name tag displaying my beliefs and had knocked on strangers' doors for two years to share with them the happiness the Gospel has brought me.
They all were still a bit in shock (not the bad kind of shock) about being in the presence of a practicing Mormon. I said to them, "Ask me whatever you want about Mormonism." and they immediately began asking me questions.
"Where did you go on your mission?" "What was it like?" "Have you read the Book of Mormon?" "Why do you believe in the Book of Mormon?" "Why don't you drink alcohol?" "Can you have coffee?"
I couldn't believe it.
Everyone was treating me like a mini celebrity because of my religion! Not only that, but they all wanted to learn more about what I believed and why I believed it.
Now, I grabbed two copies of the Book of Mormon when I left Boston and thought I might have the chance to give them out while in NYC. I should have grabbed an entire box. When I mentioned that I couple copies of the Book of Mormon, everyone wanted to see them. I gave them to two women who seemed particularly interested in it and wrote my testimony in the front of one at the request of the woman.
Everyone was so nice in line. Their questions were sincere and they were actually interested in the answers. I feel bad because I don't remember most of their names so I'll do the best I can.
|Ann Stahl, Karen Stahl, Dani O'Callahan, and some more people asking questions about the Church.|
|Ann Curl Stahl and her daughter, Karen, asking questions about the Book of Mormon.|
|Checking out the book.|
|Explaining what the Book of Mormon is.|
It was amazing.
I was fortunate enough to win the lottery drawing as well! I was able to sit in a box seat on the left side of the theatre. It was fantastic!
|The winning lottery ticket.|
Now, as far as the show goes.
Was is crude? Yes.
Was is vulgar? Yes.
Did it make fun of our beliefs? Yes, but not as much as I thought it would.
Was it funny? Yes.
Before my Mom starts calling my Bishop or the Honor Code Office at BYU comes knocking on my door, let me explain why I feel this way.
I thought the show portrayed Latter-day Saints as naive, but good-hearted people that are trying to help everyone they meet. The show portrays that we are convicted in the things we believe and that conviction motivates us to share what we believe with everyone we can.
The show takes some of our beliefs out of context or exaggerates them to make them seem a little silly, but nothing I would consider anti-Mormon. I'm sure some would disagree, but I felt like the show portrays how silly religion in general can be, but as long as the religion motivates people to do good things and help others, the religion is good.
The language, however was incredibly vulgar.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone wrote the musical and the humor is exactly the type of humor one would expect from the creators of South Park. I felt like I needed to wash my ears out with soap after I saw the show. The worst of curse words and vulgarity are commonplace. The interesting thing is how the language is presented in amazingly catchy song and dance. It made it hard to decide if I should be enjoying the music or be plugging my ears.
I completely understand why people don't want to see the show, however, I also think members of the Church shouldn't be too upset about it. If anything, I think members of the Church should embrace the opportunity to answer questions about the Church. Even after going back to Boston, I had the chance to talk to a co-worker of mine for 45 minutes about my mission and the musical. The Book of Mormon musical is an incredible opportunity for missionary work that members of the Church would be foolish not to act upon.
Here's a song I enjoyed (it's very family friendly).
"Two by Two" - My favorite number from the show.
Oh, and to answer the question I know most of you are wondering.....
The book is much much better.