I saw the Book of Mormon Musical at the Smith Center in Las Vegas last night. My brother-in-law saw the musical in Seattle and he enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a chance.
I’m so glad I did because it’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. My ribs were sore for a few hours afterward from all the laughter. Chicago has been the musical I measure all others by, and the Book of Mormon is as good. I could relate to so many of the absurdities of mission life having served a mission myself in Germany from 1987-89. The few inaccuracies, such as how missionaries are assigned to a country or state, didn’t bother me at all.
This isn’t a musical for children as many of the themes are mature. After all, it was written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park fame. But it’s not all mature jokes, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable. The musical follows two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to teach the people of Uganda, most of whom have AIDS.
The missionaries bring a message of hope, faith, and tales of Joseph Smith setting up a church in North America, and that message is often juxtaposed with the plight of the Ugandan people who are merely trying to survive to the next day. The Mormons come off as goofy at times, but also dedicated and passionate about their faith. If this was a story of merely making fun of a group of people, it wouldn’t be as entertaining. For example, Parker and Stone forgo the cheap jokes about polygamy and instead give us insight into how even these seemingly carefree and clean-cut young men also have doubts about their church.
It’s hard to pick a favorite musical number because they are all fantastic, but I loved “Turn it Off” because it hit home so strongly.
When you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head,
Don’t feel those feelings!
Hold them in instead
Turn it off, like a light switch
Just go click!
It’s a cool little Mormon trick!
We do it all the time
When your feeling certain feels that just don’t feel right
Treat those pesky feelings like a reading light
And turn ’em off…
I like how the writers wove interesting bits of Mormon history throughout the musical, albeit often in a manner I’ve never heard at church. You’ll learn about Joseph Smith and how he came upon the plates of gold. Even Brigham Young makes a brief but hilarious appearance. It might help to understand Mormon history, but the musical provides enough backstory so that even if your understanding of Mormonism is topical, you’ll still enjoy the show.
I’ve probably seen 30 plays over the past 20 years. Until now Chicago was the only musical I would have paid to see again the next day. That I would drive to Vegas tomorrow to see the Book of Mormon again is the highest compliment I can give it.
I enjoyed every single minute of the Book of Mormon Musical.