Have a religious experience watching the “Book of Mormon” on stage (Holly Broxterman/Lariat)
Get ready to don your temple garments and Sunday best for the musical that won nine Tony awards. “You simply won’t believe” how much this musical will change your life, but thankfully you will be reminded often. Featuring traditional Mormon values, this play has several spiritual songs which evoke a sense of listening to gospel.
As the curtain rises, the scene is set in Heavenly Father’s biblical times, 326 A.D. Fans of South Park and Book of Mormon creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, will quickly recognize the narrator’s voice and rejoice.
The opening scene portrays the great prophet Mormon, the leader of the Nephite people in ancient upstate New York, who sailed his people from Israel to create a new civilization. Learning from Jesus that his new civilization would soon be destroyed, Mormon gave special golden plates to his son Moroni just before the Nephites were effaced from the Earth. Moroni buried these plates to memorialize their civilization until they were discovered in 1823, spawning the fastest growing religion today.
Shortly thereafter, attendees are greeted by the starring Elders in much the same manner many meet Mormons for the first time in “Hello.” A doorbell rings and the most polite person you have ever met excitedly wants to talk to you about Jesus Christ, Volume 3: The Book of Mormon.
The song summarizes a lot of information about the “nifty little book” very quickly and reminds you just how super friendly these folks are. The black sheep of the flock, Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson), excitedly pipes up last, “Hello, would you like to change religions? I have a free book written by Jesus.”
The songs that follow silhouette the special bond of the star Elders, prodigy Elder Price (Kevin Clay) and eager Elder Cunningham, embarking on their two-year mission in “Two By Two” and “You and Me (But Mostly Me).”
Following a stressful arrival in the African village they will call home for the foreseeable future, Elders Price and Cunningham are reunited with fellow Latter Day Saints after losing their luggage to angry men with guns.
In “Turn It Off,” the other Ugandan missionaries share valuable life lessons on dealing with unwanted feelings and thoughts, like when an angry gang steals your suitcase, including a popular and completely healthy technique. The Elders assure their method is fool proof and effective against sadness, guilt, bullying and even supports gay conversion therapy. And if unsuccessful, know “you only have yourself to blame.”
“You say you got a problem? Well that’s no problem.
It’s super-easy not to feel that way.
When you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head.
Don’t feel those feelings. Hold them in instead…
Turn it off, like a light switch. Just go click.
It’s a cool little Mormon trick. We do it all the time.”
(Excerpt from “Turn It Off”)
The Elders work together to bring Mormonism to the town, but the villagers are resilient in their lack of faith and belief that God has actually caused many of their problems, such as famine, rape, AIDS, female circumcision, deadly mosquitos and lions, to name a few. When Elder Cunningham makes headway with the daughter of the chief, who begins to attract other villagers to listen to what he has to say, Elder Price becomes jealous and disenchanted and decides to return home to America.
Shortly after Elder Price’s momentary lapse in faith when he attempts to flee Africa for Orlando, Florida (the location he prayed to be sent to), he passes out at the bus stop and has what many Mormons know as the “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.” Satan, Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan and Jeffrey Dahmer greet Elder Price in his dream and remind him that temporary hardships in life are nothing compared to eternal damnation. His fellow missionaries find him and seem not the least bit surprised by his dream, sharing that they have the same one all the time.
In “I Believe,” Elder Price’s faith is restored, as well as his will to spread the gospel of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
“I believe that God has a plan for all of us.
I believe that plan involves me getting my own planet.
And I believe that the current President of the Church,
Thomas Monson, speaks directly to God!
I am a Mormon, and dang it, a Mormon just believes!
I believe that Satan has a hold of you.
I believe that the Lord God has sent me here!
And I believe that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people!
You can be a Mormon. A Mormon who just believes…”
(Excerpt from “I Believe”)
Listen to the entire musical and feel compelled to convert, now available on Spotify with a subscription.