'The Book of Mormon': 'South Park' on Broadway?
Rewind:The creators of the animated series have brought their brand of faux irony to Broadway. They make fun of everyone -- but with this musical, are black people the ultimate butt of their jokes?
With The Book of Mormon taking home 9 Tony Awards this year, we're pulling this review of the Broadway musical from our archives.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the guys who created South Park, like to boast that they are equal-opportunity offenders. Which is true. Over the past 10 years that their potty-mouthed, thumb-in-your-eye animated series has been on the Comedy Channel, they've mocked gay people, black people, Canadian people, Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology, the Pope and, most infamously and dangerously, the Prophet Muhammad.
Now Parker and Stone have brought their act to Broadway. The Book of Mormon, the new musical that they've written in collaboration with Robert Lopez, the co-creator of the equally irreverent Muppets-style musical Avenue Q, sends up the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, celebrity do-gooders and the people of Uganda.
The musical tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to a small village in Uganda to convert the people there. They are the usual odd couple you find on TV and in movies and musical comedies. In this case, one is a golden-haired Mormon poster boy who would rather be in Orlando, Fla., and the other is an overweight outcast who just wants people to like him.
The show is unlikely to be a fan favorite in the Mormon community. But if you're black and your skin is even a little thin, there's plenty in this show to rub you the wrong way, too. The Ugandans whom the missionaries encounter are plagued by poverty, AIDS and an evil warlord who forcibly subjects women to circumcision.
Despite these woes, the villagers are portrayed as good-hearted, if simple-minded, people. One keeps referring to an old battered typewriter as her "texting machine." Another stomps around talking about raping babies because he believes that doing so will rid him of HIV. A dream sequence is set in hell, where the devil's main disciples are Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler, the serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer, and Johnnie Cochran, who, a song explains, is there for his part in helping to free O.J.