Friday, March 25, 2011

HASA DIGA EEBOWAI: You might not expect the future of the American musical to hinge on the talents of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. But with The Book of Mormon -- the South Park guys' inaugural foray into Broadway theatre -- having opened tonight, it's time to change one's expectations. It's just that good. (Ben Brantley agrees!)

First, some caveats. If you don't like seeing people make fun of religion -- mostly, but not exclusively Mormons -- this is not the show for you. And for the love of all things holy, if you can't handle profanity, please do not see this show.

Everyone else, however? Buy tickets now.

For starters, it's fucking hilarious. (I meant it. If you don't like profanity, go away.) I don't really know what else to say without giving away all kinds of stuff that will make you spit diet coke out through your nose when you see it on stage. Come on, it's the South Park guys. It's just funny.

But here's the great part. The Book of Mormon is a big, splashy, gorgeous, hilarious, totally traditional musical comedy (which, as any self-respecting ThingThrower knows, are the two most glorious words in the English language). So on the one hand it's beyond offensive, but on the other hand it has tap dancing! Lots and lots of tap dancing! And like four 11 o'clock numbers! And a heart of solid gold, and torch songs, and production numbers, and maggots in the scrotum, and . . . oh wait, I guess that goes under the "offensive" heading.

The Drowsy Chaperone, a decidedly mediocre musical, got a lot of press a few years ago for being a "love letter for those who love musical theatre." Chaperone is like a note on torn-out notebook paper asking if you wanna go make out under the bleachers compared to Mormon.

Seriously. Just order your tickets now. You won't be able to for much longer.


  1. I need to see this.

  2. The (spectacular) reviews are going to help, but I'm going to be interested to see how long the show lasts.  They've smartly not cast name stars (biggest name in the cast is Josh Gad, who's probably best known for playing the schlubby brother in Love and Other Drugs) and are letting the creative team sell it, but I'm wondering if something that isn't bluehair safe and isn't family-with-young-children-safe can run. (American Idiot, which got somewhat worse reviews but had a stronger "brand" behind, it is closing after about a year at a loss and got generally Tony-snubbed.)

    Also, credit to them for a production schedule that makes sense for the show (no Wednesday matinees).

  3. KCosmo8:42 AM

    Matt, to me Gad will always be Barfee in Putnam County Spelling Bee.

    I have the same question about longevity.  It appeals to a narrower audience than your standard show - but then again, Avenue Q had a decently long life span.  And it could also look like Spamalot, which, if memory serves, drew an audience that largely wasn't your standard Broadway crowd.

    The bluehairs should not even try to see this one.

  4. The thing with Q that helped it run is that it has a very small cast (10 including swings), while Mormon looks like it has about 25 (including TAR winner Nick Spangler!).  Also, the Golden is much smaller and cheaper to rent than the O'Neill is (that has the downside of capping revenue, though).  And man, folks associated with Putnam County have done very well for themselves (JTF and Barrett Foa have TV jobs, Fogler's done a bunch of movies, Gad has this).

  5. Genevieve10:17 AM

    So if I love all the things that you mentioned, but I just don't enjoy South Park - it's somehow not my sense of humor, I love the Simpsons but I feel like South Park and generally Family Guy and American Dad are offending for the sake of offending rather than for the sake of being funny - should I try this?  It's not that I'm easily offended at all, it's just that I want it to make me laugh, and South Park doesn't.

    I like Nick Spangler (saw him in something else) and the original Barfee.

  6. gretchen10:18 AM

    The comparison to Drowsy Chaperone sells me.  I don't know if this will run forever, but I know that it's been hard to find tickets so far (at least for the very limited evenings when I have babysitting!)

  7. Have you seen the SP film? It's a bit different, and much more focused.

  8. Mr. Cosmo10:23 AM

    Spamalot and the Producers are the best analogs.  I really enjoyed both shows, but neither is going to age very well.  I predict a run of between 3 and 4 years.

  9. KCosmo10:26 AM

    Genevieve -- I actually don't watch South Park.  (I don't like the Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, etc., either.)  I think the reason why this works even if you don't go in for that sort of thing is that the show is so gosh-darned good-hearted. 

  10. KCosmo10:31 AM

    The Post's review goes into detail about some of the jokes, etc.  Read at your peril if you like being surprised, but it might help with the "will I find this funny?" question.

  11. The one negative review of Book of Mormon that I've seen is Richard Ouzounian in the Toronto Star... but his review seems to be "It's not nearly as outrageous and offensive as I hoped it would be!"  Still, I'm insanely happy that we've got tickets to Book of Mormon during our upcoming trip to NYC; we're actually seeing it on the same day we're seeing Company, so THAT should be quite an adventure.

  12. KCosmo10:56 AM

    I think the songs are better in Mormon than in either of the other two shows.

  13. Heather K11:43 AM

    The film is also a very good if profane and kind of offensive homage to Disney Princess style movies in many ways.  LOVE it!

  14. Heather K11:44 AM

    I am VERY jealous of your trip to NYC.

  15. Just another big thumbs up for the South Park film.  

  16. bella wilfer12:42 PM

    Just got tickets - cannot wait.  Brantley's review is the biggest review-cum-love-letter I've seen in awhile.

  17. Urinetown, Avenue Q?  It's a big city.  This'll be a smash. 

  18. Sorry, didn't read all the comments before posting. 

  19. I love the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone are unabashedly musical theater nerds.  I remember seeing some interview or special with them right before the South Park movie came out, and Matt Stone saying something about how they put in La Resistance because Trey Parker would not shut up about Les Miz and saw it like a billion times.

  20. Bryan2:13 PM

    Another endorsement:

    “Oh, yes, I think South Park Uncut is just terrific, and the numbers in it are wonderful,” Sondheim says.

  21. isaac_spaceman2:33 PM

    I hate musicals (despite being both self-respecting and a ThingThrower) but I don't recall ever laughing at a piece of entertainment as hard as I laughed at the first half-hour of the brilliant SP:BLU. 

  22. Anonymous3:36 PM

    I really should see the film.  It's been on my list to probably see - I just need to pick a time and watch it.

  23. Seeing it April 7!  Can't wait. I ended up having to pay full price for tickets (long story about how I missed out on a good discount offer), but I'm thinking it will be worth it.  This post is the third "you MUST see this show" review I've gotten from a friend or trusted colleague, and that rarely even happens once with a show.  I also have never watched South Park, but the buzz on this show was exactly what Brantley said - that it was a good old piece of musical theater, with fantastic songs and a ton of irreverence thrown in. 

  24. Alanna10:52 PM

    Saw it and it was everything you would hope for.  It WILL will a Tony.  It IS the fucking best thing out there right now.  RUN to see it.

  25. you_dont_kno6:44 PM

    If you think south park is anything like family guy or the simpsons then u just dont understand south park at all.. every show has an angle and makes fun of one or a few basic things.. it is not random jokes like Family guy is.. You have to have some sort of education and general knowledge of world events to understand south park.. its won emmys for a reason.. just sayin

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