The Book of Mormon Saves Broadway
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 - 06:00 AM
Given that going to a Broadway musical is easily the most expensive form of entertainment — a ticket to Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark costs as much as a dozen movie tickets or a year's subscription to Netflix or five hardcover novels — it's depressing that most Broadway shows are not really very good, let alone great. So much money and skill squandered on so many dull, sloppily made mediocrities (and worse). So when an unequivocally great show appears, it deserves all the praise we can give.
The Book of Mormon is straight-up brilliant, by far the best new musical of the 21st century. The authors had two genius perceptions: that the retro style of evangelical Christianity — ultra-earnest upbeat all-American emotional — shares a good deal of stylistic DNA with musical theater, and that the founding myth of Mormonism in particular (Jesus visiting America, secret scripture engraved on golden plates buried in New York) could be mistaken for an over-the-top musical comedy conceit. The show is savagely funny and smart, as you'd expect a show by the creators of South Park to be. But it's also got a solid story, good sets and costumes, great songs, great performances and — this is the real miracle — serious ideas, moving moments and irresistible uplift.
A week after seeing it, it's still making me happy. We'll be talking more about The Book of Mormon on our show in weeks to come.
Slideshow: The Book of Mormon on Broadway