Thursday, March 24, 2011

BOOK OF MORMON opens tonight on Broadway.

One of the more fun aspects of seeing a Broadway show, especially one that is as culturally and religious (and hysterically) resonant/explosive is that you get to deliver the news before anyone else. Unlike a movie, where millions see it, a Broadway show can only do, at most, a few thousand people at a time, if that.

Tonight, to great publicity and a box office line around the block -- three hour wait for standing room or cancellations -- the BOOK OF MORMON, written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Robert Lopez. I don't know any of these people, personally, but I did see Matt Stone, standing in the back, taking it all seriously the night we were there, very early in the previews before the publicity caught on. (Unlike many rock star Broadway composers who can't be bothered to be around their own show while it's still in gestation.)

In many ways, a lot of the recent contemporary work done on Broadway, in my opinion, has felt more dilettantish than serious. What I love about Matt Stone is he's in the back and he's working on it as furiously and as heart-poundingly as any of the great songwriters of yore. It's really refreshing. This is not a cynical attempt to get cheap laughs.

It has paid off in the show, because it manages to use every "worn out" musical theater trope, but makes you believe them. They're not sending up musicals. They're not even sending up Mormons, really. Well, yes, they are. But, it's in the context of the instinctive capacity humankind has for creating and believing in myths that facilitate survival.

For all its ferocity, THE BOOK OF MORMON is going to disappoint people who were hoping for a completely iconoclastic buttfart on the whole Broadway community. But it's not. And that's why I like it so much.

But, mostly I like it because I was laughing so hard, so long and painfully, that I'm still laughing at things I saw that night, two weeks ago.

What a great relief.

Ding dong!
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