I finally saw Trey Parker’s Broadway debut today on tour at the Detroit Opera House. I don’t really see the point of plays but supposedly Parker had a dream of writing one his entire life. I just kept thinking how much better it would have been as a movie. Instead of a sound effect and some waving cloth for a baptismal pond you could actually show real water! I imagine a musical film will come out someday after everyone has seen the play and Parker has a mansion made out of solid gold bars.
The show is a standard two hours with an intermission. There are more songs than I can count with little dialogue or action. As for the songs, they range in quality, but a couple hit the mark and are as funny as those Parker wrote for South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. However a few are not really laugh generators at all and more character pieces.
I kept waiting for the offensive songs to come but they never really do. The most “offensive” I suppose would be “Fuck You, God” but other than that Parker decides to spare the Mormons the true tongue lashing they so richly deserve. There is even an ad for the REAL Book of Mormon in the program!
The theme is essentially the same as the South Park episode “All About Mormons.” And that is: much like the tale of Noah’s Ark or Exodos, the story of Joseph Smith is simply too out there and unrealistic to be taken seriously. Yet Parker seems to say that there is value to be had in these stories if they are accepted as only being metaphorical. He compares them to other cultural myths of today such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Star Wars. The dot Parker and Stone fail to connect is that if religious devotees know that there is no God or Heaven and it’s all just a metaphor then why have religion at all? There are such things as secular volunteer organizations like The Peace Corps and WorldTeach.
In the end I think the play format hurt the piece for all of the reasons that movies have made live theater obsolete. A movie version with some added scenes of dialogue and action could be very funny. Maybe they could be a little harsher too. It almost came off as pro-Mormon. The cast was great and their ability to go from acting to singing and dancing was flawless. The most impressive singer was probably Alexandra Ncube as the love interest Nabulungi.
3 Books Outta 5