Hilarious in a Bad Way – The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon - Charlotte

How could a show get away with people giving God the middle finger? Or sexually explicit baptisms? Or even more inappropriate… holy books being shoved into unmentionable parts? Then there’s female genital mutilation, dysentery, AIDS, and unspeakable acts done to babies and frogs. And in such a religious area as Charlotte nonetheless. Well, The Book of Mormon did it and did it well. The entire Belk Theater was teary-eyed from laughter during opening night in Charlotte. All of these blasphemies are set to song and dance in a performance that I will not soon forget.

In an atypical plot, a pair of Salt Lake City missionaries, Elder Price (Mark Evans) and Cunningham (Christopher John O’Neill), are sent to Uganda to convert the AIDS andThe Book of Mormon Charlotte poverty plagued locals to Mormonism. The overachieving Elder Price wanted to be sent to Orlando and Cunningham just wanted to have a real friend and be accepted by others.  The missionaries, played with convincing fervor, are like fish out of holy water. Their faith is shaken by warlords, disease, and violence. They eventually fulfill their destiny with the help of cameos appearances by Jesus, Joseph Smith, Darth Vader, Hitler, and Johnny Cochran.

The highlight of the night was the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream where Elder Price finds himself dreaming that he’s in the midst of Hades’ flames with the likes of Adolf Hitler and Johnny Cochran. Not only did it lend itself to hysterical laughter, but the dancing incorporated detailed, distorted moves that were stunning to watch.  As the daemons moved in unison, I was mesmerized by their grace and fluidity, even if it was surrounded by the fiery flames of Hell.

Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, The Book of Mormon

The tuneful songs were also one hit after another. Turn It Off was especially brilliant. As Elder McKinley leads the missionaries in “our nifty little Mormon trick” to suppress inconvenient feelings with no more effort than the flick of a light switch, I was shocked by the musical talent and the tap dancing number performed with ease. I can’t imagine the difficulty in performing such elaborate, physically demanding numbers while maintaining perfect pitch and tone. It takes immeasurable amounts of talent and skill. Another outstanding musical performance is by Samantha Marie Ware, playing the Ugandan Nabulungi. She brings tremendous musical firepower to Sal Tlay Ka Siti, her impossible dream of a civilized existence in the Mormons’ headquarters city, Salt Lake City.

Book of Mormon Charlotte, NC

To sum up all of the inappropriateness was a grand finale Ugandan reenactment of Cunningham’s teaching including large, black strap-on props, a “stuffed” (in more ways than one) frog, and creative visuals of parts of the female anatomy on a man’s face. I was so shocked at the jaw-dropping actions that I scoured the theater for disapproving eyes. To my surprise, there wasn’t an unhappy, unsmiling face in the crowd. It was well-received and taken in fun.

The Book of Mormon was pee-in-my-pants funny, outrageous, and over-the-top shocking, which I expected, but what I didn’t expect was the superbly energetic dancing, award-winning, catchy tunes, and elaborate costumes and sets. It’s a hit; it’s proof that a whole lot of wrongs do actually make a right.

62 thoughts on “Hilarious in a Bad Way – The Book of Mormon

  1. I saw Book recently but had to look up some of the lyrics afterward to get what they were saying. I’m not religious or a prude so the vulgarity didn’t offend me. I laughed with the rest but wondered what was the point, other than to defy convention.


  2. Well, um… As a Mormon, but someone who’s never, ever seen this, I don’t know what to say. I’m willing to bet that it doesn’t represent our religion accurately, though. Just thought I’d say that.


  3. I saw the original run on Broadway; hands-down the funniest stage show I’ve ever seen. Nonstop laughter from start to finish. An older couple in front of us actually got up and walked out during one of the more vulgar bits. 🙂


  4. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet.
    I wasn’t surprised by the numerous Tonys it won—has anyone else seen “Cannibal! The Musical” or “South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut”? Trey Parker is a musical and comical genius.


  5. Been wanting to see it for quite a while. Have to now. Great, and I might add, gutsy review. Met some gay Mormons from Salt Lake at Burning Man. I commented it must be difficult being gay and Mormon. Their comment: “Heck no, going on Mission is a great way to meet a man.” Curt


  6. It is really hard to believe that they can bring all of that off without having outrage and death threats – or at least, much fire and brimstone – from the devout. It must be amazingly well handled.


    • My understanding is that Mormons practice a religion of peace so of course there would be no threats from the devout. I don’t share their beliefs but I think that they do not seek revenge — there are religions that DO, but people tend not to “roast” them — now THAT would be gutsy!


  7. I saw Book of Mormon in 2012 during my first trip to NYC over Thanksgiving. It was definitely a blasphemous delight, not to mention it really hits the nail on the head when it comes to some of the sects more annoying habits/practices. I live in SW Idaho and a lot of Mormons call the area home. For some reason, I don’t think a tour will ever come through the Boise area… Salt Lake, maybe 😉


  8. OMG this sounds so funny – I would love to see this. Unfortunately they are not showing it in Australia. I protest – they have to come here – Australians would LOVE this show even though Mormons are not big over here. There are definitely a few around and they all seem lovely – if a bit mis-informed…


  9. I have been dying to see this show, and even stood in line for the lottery to get leftover tickets to the sold out show in my town, but still haven’t made it. I was a Mormon as a kid, even baptized LDS, but no longer in the church. I feel like knowing it would make the show even better for me. Your great blog post has made me even more eager to see The Book of Mormon.


  10. I have wanted to see this since I heard of it a year or so ago. I am a fan of these horrid young men and their quest to skewer virtually everything on their barbed pens. I’d love to see this show in SF but being a pensioner eking out an existence in a low budget paradise (Todos Santos, BCS) I doubt if I’ll see it till it’s filmed. There is a little known film called “Orgazmo” (1997) also by Stone and Parker,that follows another Mormon quest which veers radically into immersion in the porn industry. Hilarious as well, but not full of the music which elevates their work, and boy does their work need elevating. Thanks for letting me enjoy a vicarious tasting of the broth of obscenity.


  11. Saw it the first week in NYC and LOVED it! I’m a fan of the creators of South Park, so I’m used to their “inappropriateness”. 🙂 Awesome play.


  12. I have MAJOR theological differences with the Mormon Church, but do not think it is funny to insult them with this musical. Would you find it amusing if these guys made a vulgarity-laced show distorting the life of an adventure-seeking blogger and portraying said blogger as someone who harms others with cruel ideas and actions? Great music, acting and dancing does not cover up an effort to demean a group of people. If you allow the disrespect of one group, the attitude flourishes and eventually whatever group(s) you are in will be treated disrespectfully too.


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