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Where the Celebs Go: The Book of Mormon
By MEG SWERTLOW
September 27, 2011
You’ve heard the clamor: Broadway’s biggest hit in the past decade, the hardest ticket in town to get, the winner of nine Tony Awards, earned over $32 million, hailed "the best musical of this century" by New York Times' Ben Brantley! It’s The Book of Mormon! Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Broadway show has been hyped up the wazoo, but unlike some movies, books or shows that fail to perform up to the initial fervor – The Book of Mormon lives up to the hype and then some!
Uproariously hilarious at times, crude and obscene at other moments and heartwarming throughout, The Book of Mormon is theater at its absolute finest. The energy in the theater is palpable as soon as you step through the doors of the famed Eugene O’Neill Theatre and it doesn’t let up until the final curtain call. The musical numbers are catchy and lively, the acting is superb and the writing is unparalleled. What’s so great about the show is – it’s smart. It's really smart. It doesn’t dumb down its humor for the masses, and it isn't a big, broad, overdone "Broadway" production with cute winks and nods to the audience. BOM is a show that goes for the jugular and does not let go. My date, who is not a musical theater guy and had never seen a Broadway show before, and I oscillated from cringing to being shocked to smiling and giggling and finally to being totally awestruck by what was before us. He was floored; I was amazed. The experience was magical. Frankly, it’s the best musical I’ve ever seen and the best thing I’ve ever seen on Broadway. And it seems as though others agree with me. On Sunday night, Book of Mormon's success story was even chronicled on 60 Minutes.
With book, lyrics, and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, the musical lampoons organized religion on the whole as well as traditional musical theater – and audiences just can’t get enough of the non-secular lashing. The religious satire weaves the story of two young Mormon missionaries, go-getter Elder Price (played by Andrew Rannells) and hapless Elder Cunningham (played by Josh Gad), who are sent to a remote village in northern Uganda to convert the hardened locals. While in the war-torn and AIDS-ravaged village, the naïve missionaries try their best to share their scriptures with the villagers but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are being threatened, killed and raped by a brutal warlord. Eventually the tables turn when the oh-so-driven Elder Price becomes discouraged by the difficulties in converting the villagers, while the plucky and positive Elder Cunningham becomes a Mormon-converting superstar, by telling some tall tales in order to help the battered people.
While it's quite the show onstage, the audience is also a sight to behold. Take a look at some of the hundreds of celebs who have lined up with the masses to see the famed Book of Mormon:
Alec Baldwin, Tyra Banks, Sacha Baron Cohen, Isla Fischer, Drew Barrymore, Orlando Bloom, Matthew Broderick, Sandra Bullock, Louis C.K., Jim Carrey, Goldie Hawn, Kim Cattrall, Chelsea Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Glenn Close, Robert DeNiro, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Ben Kingsley, Tony Kushner, Patti Lupone, Steve Martin, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Al Pacino, Mary Kate Olsen, Anna Paquin, Sean Penn, Daniel Radcliffe, Tim Robbins, Jason Schwartzman, John Stamos, Meryl Streep, Olivia Wilde, Oprah Winfrey, Renee Zellweger and so many more!
So do yourself a favor, go to The Book of Mormon – if you can get tickets, that is! And even if you have to wait months and months – it’s worth the wait!