Audiences were shocked by the raw passion and extreme satirical humor that is “Book of Mormon” during its performance on Wednesday at Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
The creative story of two Mormon men on their first missionary assignment to Uganda had viewers laughing from beginning to end and received a thunderous standing ovation.
“Book of Mormon” has had two sold-out shows already in its weeklong run at TPAC and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. According to TPAC’s website, tickets are nearly sold out for every show and a lottery will be held to sell the remaining tickets each day just before the show. Nashville, Tenn. residents still hoping to get tickets can submit their names for a drawing in TPAC’s lobby two and a half hours before each show.
With nine Tony Awards and packed with such incredible talent, it’s no wonder the show is receiving so much attention. The musical’s extreme success comes from a combination of the originality of the script, the controversy it created, the whimsical choreography and the awe-inspiring set design.
When Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez created “Book of Mormon” in 2011, nothing like it had ever been seen before. The musical highlights many questions that people are afraid to ask and makes bold statements unflinchingly, especially in the song which curses God in Afrikaans.
The writers, who are best known for their animated comedy “South Park,” held nothing back in their attempt to satirize standardized religion. The show contains many crude or harsh references to religious practices that seem to poke fun at the entire idea of faith not just one religion.
Because of the extreme nature of the humor, the show was met with controversy when it first opened on Broadway. Viewers feared the show was mocking them for their religion and was pushing a negative message about faith, but recently, people have been accepting the spirit with which the show was produced and enjoying the message underneath the satire of “Book of Mormon.”
As a matter of fact, local Mormon missionaries have been using the show’s run as a way to market themselves. Half-a-dozen men and women have spent each night, before, during and after the show, handing out pamphlets and books and engaging audience members about their faith.
Even without the philosophical, religious plotline, the show’s appeal is obvious. The talented cast deliver a thoroughly entertaining and unforgettable musical number every time they step onstage. The choreography for each song throughout the show is simply perfect. The dances are energetic and engaging and involve many hilarious moments, including a tap dancing routine, bedazzled vests and skinny jeans, and two disco balls.
In addition, the set design for this production is nothing short of phenomenal. Nearly two dozen set changes occur during the course of the performance and each one flows so seamlessly that it appears to be just another piece of the choreography. At least 10 different backdrops moved in and out to frame each setting in splendid color.
There are a great many aspects of this musical that viewers will enjoy; however, there are also a few reasons to be skeptical of it. The humor is very crude and inappropriate at times. A couple of the dance moves in the second act even become obscene and expletives are used with startling frequency. It is recommended that this show be enjoyed only by adult audiences and that patrons research the performance before viewing.
“Book of Mormon” is running through Sunday at TPAC. Remaining shows will be Thursday and Friday nights and there will be two shows on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are limited but still available through TPAC’s website. Belmont students wishing to see the show can receive a discount by using promo code, “BELMONT,” upon checking out.
Photo credit: Book of Mormon Touring Company