Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And the Tony Goes to:

One thing is certain: The words "The Book of Mormon" have never been spoken so frequently in New York and with such enthusiasm. The musical by that name was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and took home 9 of them, including Best Musical. Tickets range from $157-$477 if you want to see it live.

Think about it: That's basically $1,000 for a night on Broadway so you be one of the "in" people who has seen the Book of Mormon.

How many of us saw that coming? And I can't help but wonder if they give you a complimentary Book of Mormon with your program. After the show, I'm sure most people would take a look through it.

But joking aside, I know there are strong feelings regarding this musical. LDS people I know range from highly offended to eager to see it. As far as I know, I don't know anyone who has seen it, although I know some who have tried, so I have no first-hand reviews. Just the interviews I've seen online and this Tony performance. For those of you who missed it (and are remotely curious), here it is.

What are your thoughts are the current #1 show on Broadway?


  1. I don't know what to think of it either. Maybe it will peak a few people's curiosity? Lets hope. The kid is quite a singer!

  2. I read on facebook that if given a chance to go you would "of course" go. Though I support that choice, I'm curious as to why you would - you never said. I have NO desire to see my sacred beliefs mocked, but equally so, I cannot bear vulgar language in excess. 49 f-bombs. Why would I invite that in my life? Not that I don't curse - goodness knows I swear more than a woman should - but it's just so unnecessary to be that vulgar. Makes me physically ill. That said, I actually liked this song :). Even though it was mocked at the Tony's and during the play I'm sure, it really is...what I believe :). PS Ugandans should be just as offended as Mormons from what I understand. Just sayin'.

  3. My sister and her husband went to see it. They really enjoyed it, and she told me I would too. However, this musical is definitely not for true believing Mormons. Yes, there are many out there that are not true believing Mormons and still call themselves "Mormon". Most of the information in the musical is correct! And yes they do mock a lot of it! The conclusion that the writers want Mormon people to walk away with is that they believe some very crazy, unbelievable stuff and their religion doesn't "save" or help everyone. The music is very well written. Probably why it's being recognized at the Tony Awards.
    I repeat: Not for True Believing Mormons!

  4. Lori, I think all your reasons for not seeing it are valid. By all reports, it's offensive--and that's coming from people who offend people for a living.

    Besides, being a former musical theater freak, my angle for seeing it is along the same lines as why I read Twilight and the Hunger Games: because I knew they were influential books that would shape future thinking within a genre, and I wanted to see what they had at their core that made them so popular. Because you don't get the reaction this show is getting without touching on some core issues and doing several things right, just like the Hunger Games did. Kids killing kids for the entertainment of adults? That's pretty offensive, and definitely rated R, but the delivery was on the mark to drive the point home.

    So I guess that would be my core reason for seeing it. Because Lady Gagas don't happen on accident, and shows don't win 9 Tonys just for picking on Mormons and exploiting war crimes in Africa. They have to be doing something very, very right and I guess I want to know what that is.

  5. I thought I'd put the FB comment thread here, just for those who are interested:

    Robin: I left a really long and detailed comment on your blog and it has disappeared! So, I'm sorry, you are no longer privileged to hear my opinion.

    Sheralyn: Boo! I've been seeing a lot of people here asking if blogger is having problems. Guess I can answer yes. Hope your comment magically reappears, Robin!

    Chris: I'm fascinated by what an awkward thing this is for the LDS community to respond to. there's so much tension around this. Outsiders say they find Mormon conviction to be endearing and even admit that Mormonism creates spiritually fulfilled, genuinely happy people and we get offended because they are interested in us for the wrong reasons? If someone were to say that the Mormon narrative is unique and inspiring but that believing it LITERALLY is nuts are we supposed to be outraged? I think we have trained ourselves to get huffy when people draw attention to us in any way that is not on our own terms.

    Everything in this song (that is supposed to sound odd) is still pretty accurate isn't it? Sure it's being mocked but the point (whether we agree or not) of the musical seems to be that religion is basically a story that we draw strength from. If someone believes something it doesn't give them any sort of advantage in the content of their character but beliefs DO change people internally. A story CAN motivate positive results. I think they're trying to make a statement about religion in general and using Mormonism because it is one of the newest and to many people, strangest.

    Charity: You're spot on, Chris.

    Many conservatives have no desire to see Book of Mormon because it is offensive in general. According to Variety: "Mormon has been touted as the most potentially obscene production to ever grace the Great White Way. So just how off-color is it?Very. The show is jam-packed with foul language (the title of one big number, sung in the Ugandans’ language, translates as “F— You, God!”), sexually explicit jokes, and enough blasphemy to knock your church-going grandma right out of her seat."

    So, on that basis, I will go along with your Foxy spin and say, yes. Democrats are in love with this thing - without pointing out that it's not the political position a person takes that dictates their desire to see material that would offend many. It's their religious stance.

    Chris: Ya, there's a song called "Joseph Smith, American Moses" and I liked the idea at first, but it is so hard to get past the language. It is supposed to be like the Uncle Tom's Cabin play from The King and I where the Africans reenact the version of the Book of Mormon that the missionaries have been fabricating for them. I don't usually have a hard time with language but this was just over the top. To me the most offensive aspect of this show is the portrayal of the Africans.

  6. Part #2
    Sheralyn: Oooh! I came across Fox-y did I? Good to know. And agreed, the vulgarity of the show is an excellent excuse for why conservative people in general and Mormons in particular won't see it, but to Chris's point, the main reasons Mormons won't see it are much more deeply rooted. And Chris... so well said! Seriously could not have said any of it better.

    And one more point, (somewhat) in the show's defense, missions are definitely rated R. Is there anyone who has been on a mission who can say otherwise? :)

    Elizabeth: With songs like "F--- You, God", songs implying that Mormons are gullible, blind sheep who have no knowledge but instead "just believe", and songs that actually point and laugh at the AIDS epidemic and genocide slaughtering the people of Africa, my offense in not a matter of "getting huffy" - I am appalled. I can sort of buy how Broadway would get the giggles over mocking the LDS Church and Christainty in general, as that arrogance seems generally taken as politically correct these days, but to fill a room with (for the most part) well-off Americans and have a good chuckle at the agony of a foreign nation - it makes me want to puke. I have no respect for it.

    Lori: Elizabeth - well said! I have no desire to see what I hold dear mocked. Plus - the f-bomb was dropped 49 times. I have no need to add any vulgarity to my life. Why? But I was surprised that I liked "I believe." Because I do :) Through hard won testimony seeking. Sheralyn probably knows that I blogged about this as well - for those who aren't my "facebook" friends and are interested, I'd love to have your opinion as well: http://dunnthat.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/sucker-punch/

    Sheralyn: E, I totally agree with you, but I also don't think the creators of this show are completely callous to either Mormons or the plights of those in Africa. I *think* they are actually quite sympathetic, and I'm a bit curious as to what impact this show will have on African charities. Sure, the show makes light of horrible things, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the truth and the horror below the humor might get people to look at what's going on a little more closely. Again, just opinion. But I will be watching. And if I'm wrong, I'll be the first to admit it. But I don't think thousands of well-off people can watch that show 8 times a week and walk away heartlessly laughing at Africa... but that is just speculation, since I haven't seen it and haven't even chosen to listen to the songs on youtube. I should probably be a little more educated before I start typing, but there you go...

    Elizabeth: Ha ha, yeah, I've heard parts of various songs, and the entirety of the "I Believe" song, but that was about all I could sit through. I really hope that the play produces some kind of good result by keeping those topics (spiritual knowledge vs. religious habit (if they even got that 'high brow' about it), and the suffering of millions in Africa) on the minds of those who pay to see "Mormon", and that that influence will tip the scales of their agency to the side of action.

    Chris: As an active Mormon who has personally struggled with the response to "Just believe" when trying to responsibly reconcile difficult information I personally find this song hitting VERY close to home (especially where he says "You can't just believe part of it. You've got to believe it all."......it's so accurate of our culture IMO.

    We don't believe because we are dumb or gullible as much as we think that it is genuinely how God would want us to respond...in the face of confusion or contradiction we believe...we totally do. C'mon.....own it ;)

  7. Part #3

    Sheralyn: ‎" O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. DOUBT NOT, but BE BELIEVING, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation..." Mormon 9:27.

    Elizabeth: I see your perspective, and definitely own it that there are far too many LDS people who don't trust the Gospel enough to dig deep into it and question/pray/search out answers, but instead find it easier to duck down their heads and "just believe", as if the gold leaf might scrape off to reveal copper, after all. But being a Mormon who grew up in the Bible Belt of the South, I had to start questioning/reasoning through/prayerfully analyzing the gospel at a very young age. It was a blessing to have people ask me "Why do you believe THAT?" from about age 5 on, and I can honestly say that there is no doctrine of the Church that I "just believe". If something doesn't make sense to me, then I go after it and seek understanding. However, I think a testimony is, ultimately, based in faith, but that real faith is based in spiritual as well as scientific knowledge - Truth, is truth, regardless of the source. It won't contradict itself, and therefore neither will God, because He is a God of truth. So, what I'm saying is, I don't "just believe", I believe.

    Also, just want to say that I think questioning 'difficult ' doctrine (as long as one's motive is a genuine desire to understand) is not just OK to do, but a responsibility of every LDS person, and of mankind in general. When people are afraid to question and wrestle with the Gospel with the intent to gain understanding, they are entirely missing the ultimate value of it - truth can take any question, it's just a matter of having the faith/determination and teachable heart to receive the answer.

    Kelly: Thx Elizabeth for your last comment! I fully agree!

    Elizabeth: Word up - these things are so important to talk about, and voice our hearts over - I appreciate this dialogue!

    Sheralyn: I appreciate civil, intelligent friends who can discuss this without flipping out and resorting to insulting each other and calling each other names. :)

    Lori: Great discussion. I love "I believe" rather than "just believe." Why is it so hard to believe that one can gain testimony of miracles? LDS are not the first to believe in hard to understand doctrine: resurrection, the parting of the Red Sea, water into wine, etc. Why are these things easier to believe than the ideas of modern revelation, Jews escaping a destroyed city and coming to America, having faith, Christ visiting the Americas, etc? All should become converted through their own desire and effort to gain understanding. The most offensive idea from the musical to me is that LDS are blind followers...neither of the missionaries in the play had read the BofM.

    Incidentally, this discussion is proof that there can be good from the musical - it opens minds for the sharing of ideas and thoughts. And ultimately, I believe this will end up bringing good to the LDS church. just my opinion. But I still don't want to see it :)

  8. She-ra, I have avoided this whole topic because I hurt when the Gospel is mocked. Perhaps it comes from defending what I believe my whole growing up. But, at the same time I appreciate all of the intelligent conversation that can come from our beliefs being discussed! I am grateful that I too had to defend my beliefs from a very young age. I am grateful that many of our lesser know beliefs were brought to my attention at a very young age- because it forced me to seek and to KNOW, not just believe. A person's faith has to be based on knowing about the obscurities as well as the basics. That way we can defend and communicate rather than being shaken by another person's beliefs.