"Book of Mormon": Taboos broken, tickets scarce
The animated characters of "South Park" have been amusing (and sometimes offending) TV viewers since 1997. Now the creators of that series have unleashed their talents on Broadway. And as Rita Braver can testify firsthand . . . good luck scoring a ticket:
"Who wants to see 'The Book of Mormon' tonight?"
Everybody, it seems. It's the hottest show on Broadway right now. It's sold out for months with scalpers charging as much as $900 for one seat!
So no wonder a huge crowd forms before every performance for a lottery that lets ten winners buy tickets for that show.
This is what the fuss is about: It's a musical about Mormon missionaries.
My name is Elder Price,
And I would like to share with you
The most amazing book...
It has so many awesome parts
You simply won't believe how much
This book can change your life.
"And when you think 'Book of Mormon,' you think, 'Broadway musical,'" Braver put to Trey Parker.
"You think, perfect! That's exactly what we thought," he replied.
Total sense - if you are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the irreverent creators of "South Park. They've had such a longtime fascination with Mormonism, the religion founded in 1830 in upstate New York by Joseph Smith, that they did an episode of their TV show about it. ("God and Jesus appeared before me and they said I should start my own church because none of the others had it right.")
"Mormonism is an American religion, and it's young, and you can kind of look at its origins and its stories a little bit easier," said Stone. "It's not 2,000 years ago. It's only 200 years ago."
"And when we met Bobby, and he had the same thought, we were just like yeah! It's perfect!" said Parker.
"Bobby" is Robert Lopez, one of the creators of the Broadway hit "Avenue Q." He met the "South Park" guys when they came to see that musical:
"And after the show I took them out for a drink, and they said, 'What are you working on next," Lopez said. "And I said, 'Well, I've been thinking about doing something about Mormons or about Joseph Smith.' And they said, 'That's what we've been wanting to do since college. We've had that in our back pocket.'"
"So, how weird that? That all three of you were fascinated and thought it was a subject for musical comedy?" asked Braver.
It was weird enough - they called it "a sign" - they decided to do it together.
What ensued was seven years in the making!
"Two by two, we're marching door to door,
'cause God loves Mormons and he wants some more,
A two-year mission is our sacrifice,
We are the army of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-Day Saints)!
The show centers on two young Mormons sent off to Uganda. Andrew Runnels plays the model missionary.
"He's very self-satisfied, yeah, conceited," offered Braver.
"Now, I don't know about that. I'd like to say he's confident," Runnels said, laughing. "I would say he's very confident!"
Josh Gad plays the misfit missionary:
"He's one of those people who everybody tends to call annoying," Gad said. "He's also a bit of an exaggerator. He has a tendency to lie about certain things."
Both scored Tony nominations for Best Actor!
In fact, the show earned 14 nominations, including Best Musical. It's the most of any play this season.
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