The Book of Mormon is Faithfully Funny

Alex Falls
Staff Writer

Playing for one weekend only, “The Book of Mormon” packed the Altria Theatre for its premiere season, bringing raunchy humor and a heartwarming story of friendship and faith.

“The Book of Mormon” is an uproarious musical that tackles the idea of faith in a deceptively poignant fashion. The story revolves around an ambitious Mormon missionary who’s paired with a bumbling mission companion and sent to spread the word of Mormonism in Uganda. However as Elder Price (David Larsen) arrives in the African country, he points out this journey is nothing like “The Lion King”.

The village he and Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand) are sent to is plagued with disease and poverty. People live under fear of gang violence, and God is a source of immense hatred. When the Mormons arrive they bring with them a set of beliefs that are misunderstood by most Americans, never mind an impoverished African village.

What sounds like the set up to a dramatic story of faith overcoming adversity, is instead the premise to one of the most hilarious musicals ever produced. Penned by the co-creators of “South Park”, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, “The Book of Mormon” delivers the same satirical wit that made their animated series famous. Rarely a minute passed when the actors on stage didn’t have to pause in their tracks to wait for the audience’s roaring laughter to quiet down.

One of the most important aspects of a musical is, of course the music. “The Book of Mormon” isn’t just funny, it’s also toe-tappingly catchy, featuring show tunes worthy of standing with the titans of Broadway. Each song is just as engaging and just as hilarious as the song before it. Unlike most of Broadway’s famous shows however, “The Book of Mormon” showcases the vulgar sense of humor you’d expect from the makers of “South Park”. There’s a fine line between being profanely insightful and being crass, and this musical’s chorus line dances flawlessly right on that line.

“The Book of Mormon” brings on the funny in a big way, but the larger message of one’s allegiance to their faith drives the story forward. Elder Price arrives to the Ugandan village claiming to have answers, but he begins to have questions of his own when he thinks he has failed to live up to his expectations. The struggle of doubt has long been a source of religious uncertainty, and Mormonism is not exempt from this conflict.

“The Book of Mormon” will certainly go down as one of the great works of theatre from this generation. It’s filled with enough laughs to bring tears to the eye, and enough heart to do the same thing. The show doesn’t do much to address public misconceptions of the Mormon religion, but it does address the question of faith just about any person of any devotion can relate to. Hilarious and insightful at the same time, “The Book of Mormon” is a one-of-a-kind production.

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