I guess we attended a fair number of shows at Centre in the Square last season, because this summer they offered us a free StarCentre membership, whose main benefit is the opportunity to buy tickets in advance. And the first pre-sale opportunity was tickets for The Book of Mormon in December.
I really wanted to see Book of Mormon even though I really knew nothing about this musical, other than:
- It was supposed to be really good.
- It was supposed to be really funny.
- It was written by the same guys who did South Park.
- It somehow did involve characters who were Mormons.
The mood for the evening was set early, as we greeted on the corner by an actual Mormon (or so he said, but why would he lie? And he definitely had the outfit) who gave us a free copy of the actual Book of Mormon. (And thus I learned there was an actual Book of Mormon.)
In a bid to find parking at this sold-out performance, we had arrived early, and so decided to take advantage of another membership benefit: The opportunity to use the exclusive Member’s Lounge downstairs, before the show.
That was quite lovely. The room is beautiful and you’re definitely treated like an all-star: Take your coat, show you to a seat, take your drink order, bring it to you with free popcorn. A large-screen TV counts down the time until show start, so you don’t miss anything. Use the washroom without having to line up first.
(The drink prices were rather high, mind you. Luxury has its price, and here it’s $12 for a glass of Pinot.)
Our pre-sale purchase had garnered us seats in row A, which has extra leg room—a bit wasted on us, but pleasant nonetheless.
And on with the show.
Sometimes Kitchener gets “discount” versions of Broadway show, but this one was a proper production, with the full, A-list cast and elaborate sets. And it was everything I expected it to be: good, funny, South Park-y, Mormon-y. But it was full of surprises, too.
It is, to some extent, mocking religion in general, and the modern, American religion of Mormonism in particular. It definitely highlighted some of the odder aspects of that faith’s dogma, which I hadn’t previously been familiar with. (It does not, by the way, touch on the issue of bigamy at all.) It reminded me of the infamous South Park episode where they took on the even more modern, American religion of Scientology.
But it isn’t simple-minded or mean in its mocking. By setting most of the piece in the troubled country of Uganda, it also ends up showing how religion can be helpful, and comforting, and empowering—as long as its allowed to be flexible.
And now I’ve made the musical sound somewhat serious, when it’s not at all—it’s hilarious, in ways obvious and subtle (like coffee being the big temptation for a Mormon!). I think that’s the genius of it. At the time, you’re just being shocked and surprised and thoroughly entertained. But later on, you’re giving it deeper thought (or I am, anyway).
If you get a chance to see this production, I encourage you to do so. Even if you think you don’t like musicals.
(As long as you’re not offended by coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised. 🙂 )