As David mentioned we were in Seattle this last weekend and besides seeing Broken Bells we got to go see Book of Mormon, the Musical. This is extremely irreverent and has some great commentary about mission, ignorance, blind faith, and the general human condition. In some ways this show could have been done with some evangelical branches of Christian denominations, but Mormonism just has such an extreme stereotype that can be played around with. They also have some specific beliefs that I am not sure everyone is aware of, which makes for some great shock value. At the same time I do not feel that they are making fun of Mormons specifically or religion in general. I would say the biggest thing they are making fun of is really just ignorance and blind faith.
Ignorance in Mission
I think one of the great commentaries that can be taken away is the idea of going on mission being completely ignorant of the location you are going to. While we only get to see the experience that Elder Price and Elder Cunningham experience in Uganda, it does not seem like the other missions will have much better luck because of their ignorance. During the song “Two by Two” the various pairs talk about where they are going and it is just full of stereotypes. They had these completely superficial ideas of what each country had, showing just how much they did not understand the locations they were going to. I think that is a prevalent problem we have with kids going on mission in general and this just highlights those issues. How can you talk to people if you do not understand their culture and experiences.
The other problem is that they are going more for themselves instead of actually going to help. Now I do not think that this is just a religion problem I think there are people who do certain things because of public perception or because they want to do good, but are not thinking about what they are doing actually means. These sorts of situations tend to not help anyone because if it is not about the people you are trying to help then it is not going to work.
Great Music and Offensive
The other great thing about Book of Mormon, the Musical is that the music is fantastic. It is incredibly catchy, which can be terrible because many of the songs are not appropriate for mixed company. The thing that is important to remember is that this was written by the people who brought you South Park and Avenue Q. Neither of those shows are exactly politically correct and this show is no exception. At the same time the music has a great beat, rhythm, and the words are easy to remember. At work today I had a great time thinking of the song “Hasa Diga Eebowai”, which suffice it to say is really probably not a good song to be thinking about during work. It just shows how much the music connects with the audience.
See Live or Just the Music
Now the music is great and I would recommend the music, but you will be listening to the songs outside of their context. Part of what is great about the musical though is being able to see the visuals that they include with the songs. I think my favorite one is “Turn it Off” because at one point they are clapping and making the lights turn on and off. Then one time the lights turn off and when they turn back on all the guys are wearing these pink sequined vests and it was amazing how quickly they changed. I would definitely recommend that you try and see this show if it comes near you. I can definitely see myself bringing up this musical in conversation at times because the songs are just so quotable. I mean come up there are songs such as “Man Up” and “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” how can you not fall in love with it. The other part about seeing the show that is great is that you get to know more about the characters, who are still just people. You do feel bad for the characters and the situations they are dealing with. In the end the story is about people.