Friday, 24 June 2011

This Book Will Change Your Life

As you may well know, I'm rather a fan of musicals and for the last two weeks I have been completely and utterly obsessed with a brand new musical called 'The Book of Mormon'. 

Created by the people behind South Park and the guy behind the absolutely hysterical Avenue Q, you can imagine what kind of show this is.

The plot is simple.  Two missionaries (you know, the young, good looking American kids that knock on your door at tea time and try to tell you about Jesus) get sent to a village in Uganda in the hopes that they can convert the rather jaded population to The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints. The villagers they encounter are cynical to say the least.  They have some very real & scary issues not to mention a warlord to contend with.  They feel God has turned His back on them and so they have forsaken Him. 

So how do two young Mormons go about converting these people? Well one of them decides he can do a lot more good in Orlando and the other decides to simply make stuff up.  In order to get the people to listen he makes the book a lot more relevant to his audience (adding elements of Star Trek & Lord of the Rings while he's at it).  The moral implications of these scriptural changes are neatly debated in the song 'You're Making Things Up Again'. 

When the villagers come to see that this religion speaks to their problems, they start to come round and eventually convert.  There's a fantastically funny track at this point called 'Baptise Me' which plays like a love song and contains the rather unsubtle (yet very funny) lines “I've been dowsed by the Heavenly Father” and “I'm wet with salvation”. 

My favourite lines in the whole show however are the following:

“I'm gonna take you back to biblical times, 1823”


“I believe that in 1978 God changed His mind about black people”

One of the best songs in the whole show is called “Turn It Off”. This is a dangerously catchy little number about how to keep those awkward homosexual feelings at bay.  Word of advice though, never ever listen to it on a bus.  I laughed out loud for 5 minutes straight.

With the creatives in mind it would be easy to dismiss this show out of hand as offensive and blasphemous but that's simply unfair.  Yes, it's shocking and does point out some of the more peculiar aspects of the religion but the overall feeling of the show is one of affection.  Despite the atheist beliefs of practically everyone involved in the show, there's a heart-warming feeling about it and ultimately it says that there is a place for faith, even in the most awful of circumstances. 

If you're open minded (and a fan of musicals) I can not recommend this enough.  Some of the subject matter is unpalatable to say the least but taken in the spirit it's intended, I don't think you can help but be charmed by this show.

I have a feeling I'm going to be listening to it for a long time to come.   If you've got 5 minutes check out the inspired performance of Andrew Rannells singing 'I Believe' at the Tonys where the show took home 9 awards!

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