Book of Mormon Musical: A Mormon's Perspective

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hey everyone - Tim here. Ya know, Kelsey's husband. A couple of summers ago, I spent the summer in Boston for an internship. The Book of Mormon musical had been on broadway and was getting a ton of hype. I decided that since I'm a Mormon, I should go check it out. I hopped on a bus and headed down to NYC to try to get tickets. The experience below is my experience seeing the musical - hope you enjoy!

The Theatre
I saw the Book of Mormon musical on Broadway in August 2011.

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.
Right after I got there, about 8 more people showed up. By 6:00 a.m. there were about 25 people in line (more than enough to buy all the standing room tickets).

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 one of the most incredible missionary opportunities of my life. I taught many of the principles of the Gospel (in missionary terms, I probably taught about 5 full lessons). I explained where the musical was incorrect in what we believed and what the true doctrine was.

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.


  1. I have actually wanted to see this musical. I heard a rumor that it was coming to vegas soon, so i think im going to check it out. I think your husband gave a great review.

  2. My brother's love the soundtrack to this musical, well the few songs that are actually appropriate. But I love that the church ran an advertisement (if I remember right and if that wasn't just rumor) in the playbill that said, "The book is better." with a picture of the BofM. I think it truly is a GREAT missionary experience for us because it gets people interested in us and wanting to know more.

  3. Hi Tim! So great to meet you! I'm in SLC like you & Kelsey! :D Haha I have to admit that as a non-Mormon, I've sooo looked fwd to seeing this musical for a really long time and your blog post made me even more excited to go see it (or wait til it arrives at Capitol Theatre?).. I especially enjoyed how honest you were about what you thought and that you still recommended it bc you saw that it didn't demean your church--it just poked some fun at it (& other religions). So I appreciate your candidness!

    "Oh boy that's like in The Lion King!" Haha what a cool song!! Gosh I wanna buy the whole soundtrack now based on that one song! I'm a huge fan of Andrew Rannells ("Elder Price"), so it was cool to be reminded that he's in the musical too.

    Thanks for sharing and say "Hi" to dear Kelsey for me!

    - Annie (

  4. this is so wonderful to see! I am not Mormon (or believe in any religion for that matter) but am very interesting in the faith (and other faiths). I've always been a bit curious about the Mormon perspective on this play. And it is so nice to see this post. I personally loved the musical even though the language was a bit hard at (almost all) times.

  5. I found this really interesting! The musical's only just made it over to England but I've been hearing good things about it for a while. How it goes down here, where Mormons are much less prevalent, is something I'm interested to see.

    I'll have to check it out although I never liked the language in South Park so I hope I can get past that!

  6. this is a wonderful post!!! thanks for sharing, and I was wondering a Mormon's perspective on the play. of course it was exaggerated but I'm glad it wasn't too offensive to you. still haven't seen it.

  7. THANKS Tim. This is AWESOME. So good to hear the opinion of someone who actually saw it (a member) I love musicals. Thanks again Tim. This was awesome.

  8. The Book of Mormon has been playing here in St. Louis for the past couple weeks. I asked the missionaries at church if they've had more work to do because of it, and they said they passed out 400 copies of the Book of Mormon in 2 nights as people were getting out of the musical. How awesome is that?! Even though it isn't something that everyone in the church is grateful for (ha), I think it's a great missionary tool!!

  9. Wow really cool to read this review from your perspective!

  10. Wow, that was really a very cool experience! My uncle is also a mormon... :)

    Visiting from Family Fridays- hope you can stop by :)

  11. Such a great recap!!! Thank you for sharing, I loved hearing your husband's perspective!

  12. i loved this! my friend's dad ( a member) lives part of the year in NYC for work and saw The Book of Mormon. he loved the show and found it really funny. but i wasn't sure if i would have the same feeling as him if i were to see it. i have listened to quite a few of the songs and found myself laughing out loud at some of the stuff. i liked reading Tim's perspective because i like when people keep their morals and their convictions but can also laugh about stuff, too. and i really, extra love that the church took out an ad in the playbill. Seriously, that's funny. :)

  13. Love this! Good for him! What a great initiative he took with all those people. I def think my Mormons (esp in NYC) should jump at this chance for missionary work!

  14. Thanks so much, Tim, for sharing your thoughts on this! I haven't yet watched this musical, but it does seem like something my husband and I might enjoy. We like humor and good music, and can appreciate cracks at religion. (I'm Catholic and I have to live with the "stigma" that comes along with it). Thanks so much for linking up with me! This was amazing! I love it when husbands guest post! Kelsey is awesome!

  15. What a great perspective on the whole show - seeing it as an opening for dialogue.

  16. What an incredible perspective! Thank you so much for sharing your reaction to the show. I have seen clips of it and I didn't know how to feel! I am a Catholic and get kind of defensive against others who mock the religion. Thank you so much for linking up today with us! Come back again next week!

  17. As a member, I've debated whether or not it looks funny and looks like something I'd enjoy or not-- very neat perspective. Also like a post from your dude mixing up the posts a bit. I found you on the Tuesday blog hop, am your newest follower and can't wait to read more.
    Hoping you'll stop by to say hi sometime.

  18. I'm LDS and saw the show as well (cough bootleg cough). I totally agree with your review. It's a hilarious show and while treating some of our beliefs as silly, they actually get the majority of our doctrine correct! So very cool that you had such an awesome experience while waiting in line! My biggest problem with the musical is that the music is so catchy, but so full of swear words, that I want to listen to it but don't feel great about it! Some of the tamer songs are good to run to!

  19. Thanks for your review, Tim! I've always been curious about it, and it's nice to have a fellow member's perspective. Now I really want to see it!

  20. love this post! my husband went to see it when he was interning in DC, and had a similar experience! glad it was an unexpected missionary opportunity, those are the best kind! XO

  21. Awesome to hear from you, Tim. I wish I could get my guy to blog about something sometime! I'm really happy a Mormon posted a review about this musical, because I've always wondered whether they would be offended by it or not. I read one girl said she refused to go see it, so it's pretty cool that you could laugh at some parts. I don't know much about Mormonism, except that there are A LOT of Mormon bloggers out there haha (and that's cool) so I would love to see the show myself one day, especially since I'm learning more about your religion from my blogging friends. I think it's awesome that you had the ability to go in and watch it with an open mind. By the way, nice catch on your wife there! She's such a lovely friend and human being. ;)


  22. What a great missionary opportunity :D Clearly, "BoM the Musical" has given the church some good exposure.

  23. loved this response. i haven't seen it - don't plan on it (if i'm spending time and money for a can bet i'll be seeing wicked or newsies again :) ..but i'm glad to hear what your husband thought.

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