Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Book of Mormon

We saw The Book of Mormon in Toronto at the Prince of Wales theatre last week. It was on our list of things to do when we were in London this past September, but we just didn't get around to purchasing tickets.

Luckily, the Toronto production featured Gavin Creel in one of the lead roles. He won the 2014 Laurence Olivier Award for originating the role of Elder Price at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the London original.

Brought to you by the creative minds of South Park, this play is definitely irreverent. Laughing and being horrified at the same time is a curious emotional mix. The first half was hilarious, the second half continued the profanity and then inserted a bit of philosophy and wrapped everything up with a quazi-moral to the story.  I interpreted it as, believing is a leap of faith, and sometimes the end does justify the means.

The play didn't just insult Mormons. It insulted everyone, including homosexuals, Jews, Muslims, and Africans. Politically correct,  it was not. Here's a sample tune: Turn It Off. 

Nine Tony Awards, 4 Olivier Awards, and the acclaim keeps coming, with rave reviews wherever it runs. The producers didn't even bother to invite Toronto critics to the latest city staging, but that didn't stop the Globe and Mail from weighing in with a positive review.

Most curious were the three full page adds in the program, "You've seen the play... now read the book." Each featured a very wholesome looking person and the website URL for   I thought it might be an online parody, but it was in fact for the Church of Latter Day Saints. I couldn't help but wonder if the play was purchasing the ad space to help avoid a law suit, or if it had something to do with appeasing Donny and Marie Osmond, who are visiting the same theatre in December. Turns out the ads have been running wherever the play is produced.

Apparently the Church sees it as a good marketing opportunity:
Instead of complaining about a musical show that pokes fun at their religion, the Church of Latter Day Saints has chosen to capture the moment by launching a marketing campaign of their own... Whoever is advising the Mormon Church on their public relations and advertising strategy should take a bow. It would have been so easy to whip up a storm around the musical. The Mormons could have had all the publicity they wanted: demos, protests, questions in the House. But that would have been the wrong sort of publicity. The Independent (London)

1 comment:

Kurt said...

I was lucky to see The Book of Mormon when it was in previews in NYC. They threw in an extra joke during previews: after the Africans perform their play for the Mormon elders, and the elders say they are appalled, Nabulungi says "Well, it's still in previews."