‘Mormon’ Musical Gaining Followers

Andrew Rannells (center left) and Josh Gad (center right) lead THE BOOK OF MORMON cast. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

The Book of Mormon musical opens tonight on Broadway, but it seems it’s already generating a considerable amount of buzz and becoming the “it” show of the spring Broadway season. Now that curiosity has cooled somewhat and preview performances are an interminability for that Spider-Man musical, it’s time to take a closer look at a show that’s earning its buzz.

As conceived by the creators of Comedy Central’s long-running animated hit “South Park”, Trey Parker and Matt Stone (who are not Mormons), the show is an offensively delightful musical comedy that attempts to satirize those Utah Mormons in their crisp white shirts and ties, the religious doctrines of the Book and The Church of Latter-Day Saints. The story follows two young Mormons who yearn to spread their message across the world. So they are sent packing from their Salt Lake City homebase on a far-flung mission to Uganda, of all places.

Advance praise has already been heaped by the likes of Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and Vogue. Parker and Stone have also been making the TV publicity rounds with David Letterman and Jon Stewart. Apparently people are taking notice and creating great interest with positive word-of-mouth soundbites. Based on ticket demand alone, The Book of Mormon is selling very briskly and is on track to becoming the surprise hit of the season. A bawdy mormon musical, who knew?

Besides that, other new shows are worth mentioning in a bountiful spring lineup full of strong promise.

The drag divas of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

For the musical front, my next pick would be Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Based on the 1994 Australian drag-queen film, Priscilla has now conquered New York after first doing Australia, London and Toronto. Other choices include Daniel Radcliffe in his singing debut in a new revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and the musical caper Catch Me If You Can, another adaptation from the film that starred Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, and a familiar Cole Porter musical, Anything Goes.

A hit London transfer from the National Theatre, War Horse leads my picks for plays. Based on the story by Michael Morpurgo and utilizing innovative puppetry design, it is told through a horse’s perspective during WWI.

Several stars are enhancing quite a number of plays this season. Robin Williams headlines the war-themed comedy, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, as the titular tiger. Ben Stiller, Edie Falco and Jennifer Jason Leigh star in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves, a revival concerning how a visit from the Pope in 1965 New York City can change a group of people’s lives. An urgent and topical AIDS drama, The Normal Heart, comes back to New York next month, but in its first Broadway mounting. As written by Larry Kramer, this would be an important play to see that chronicles a man’s struggle with an early epidemic of AIDS in the 1980’s. Then there’s The Motherfucker With the Hat. Starring Chris Rock and Bobby Cannavale, this is a foul-mouthed, R-rated comedy about going clean and sober. The title alone should give you an idea of what you’re in for.

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