I saw The Book of Mormon last night. I loved the show.
A few thoughts (no spoilers):
Having now written two musicals (the latest, written for tweens, will be produced at a summer camp in July), it’s impossible to watch a musical and fully immerse myself in the story. While I loved the show, I spent the whole time analyzing its construction: the balance between song and book, the development of characters, the way in which set and scene were used to move the story forward, the opening and closing numbers of each act and much more.
At one point I was even counting time between songs.
Writing musicals has ruined me.
As much as I loved the show, the payoff at the end was not satisfying.
Endings are hard. As someone who can’t actually decide on the end of the musical I just finished writing, I know. But the solution to the problem in The Book of Mormon (how to defeat the warlord general) almost didn’t happen. It was practically an afterthought. If you looked away for three seconds, you would’ve missed it entirely.
Throughout the entire show, I kept thinking:
If Matt Stone, Trey Parker ad Robert Lopez they can get away with writing this flagrant, unrelenting, politically incorrect assault on The Mormon Church, just imagine what I could do if I can convince my writing partner to write the required music.
There are plenty of revered institutions that I would love to attack in song and dance.
Does the success of The Book of Mormon mean I can?
While I’m sure that The Mormon Church isn’t thrilled by the existence of this show, an interesting message emerged at the end of the show:
It doesn’t matter if we invent or change the details of religion as long as we are able to find faith and comfort in it.
I kind of love this message. Maybe the Mormon Church does to?
It’s difficult to understand anyone who believes in a literal interpretation of The Bible (the world is 7,000 years old, Noah actually stuffed two of every animal on Earth in his boat, you should kill anyone who works on Sunday), and the Mormon creation story not only embraces these beliefs but adds a layer that was clearly fabricated by a not-so-creative con man.
But I know many religious people who quickly abandon the specifics of their holy texts and acknowledge that they are full of fiction (and much of it regrettable) but still find faith and comfort in their religion regardless.
I admire these people.
As a person who yearns for faith but is unable to find it, the idea that a Mormon or any other religious person could acknowledge the insanity of their primary source document but still find faith in the underlying religion is a hopeful thing for me.
Kudos to The Mormon Church for having a sense of humor and not allowing anger and hate get in the way of opportunity. I was both shocked and pleased to find The Mormon Church advertising the actual Book of Mormon in the playbill with full page ads like this: