Monday, August 17, 2015
The Book of Mormon: the musical
Last year, I heard that The Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City was getting The Book of Mormon musical. I almost bought season tickets just so I could attend this one production. Alas, our current young-married-have-children-financial-situation just didn't allow for me to do that. I was really sad, until, in December, the opportunity for me to get tickets became available and I jumped at the chance. Not only was I going to be able to go, but I was going with a bunch of new friends that have experienced the same transition I have. So stoked.
The past 6 months have been filled with the music in preparation for the show. I have giggled and teared up as I listened through the story. All the while, getting more excited to see it. So, by the time I got to The Capitol Theatre, I was afraid that the show wasn't going to measure up to my expectations.
We walked in, down the aisle toward our seats, past the group surrounding John Dehlin, and sat down. On stage was an archway topped with a golden angel Moroni depicting an LDS temple.
From the moment that golden Moroni started to rotate to the final "I still have maggots in my scrotum," this show had the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter. The Book of Mormon covered every basic doctrine and cultural oddity involved with the LDS religion.
In the beginning, there was role playing from the MTC, the desire missionaries have to pray for and receive (because of their righteousness) the call to exactly where they want to go, the charismatic missionary getting stuck with the awkward companion, and the more-righteous companion knowing that he would be the one to lead the companionship into changing the world and impress God.
When these missionaries finally get to Africa, they get a serious culture shock. The political, social, and religious privilege addressed throughout this production is considerable. However, it probably doesn't even begin to touch the misunderstanding of one's own privilege as a missionary from a first world country.
"Turn It Off" was one of my favorite songs in the first half. It was the one song that I had pictured completely wrong. The situation in my head was great, but the situation on stage was AMAZING. Dismissal of one's own feelings, doubts, and misunderstandings is preached all day, every day in the LDS Church. This song covers a wide range of situations where this practice is taught, differing views, and how they are all culturally accepted without question. Oh, because we "turn it off."
The Book of Mormon was not all cultural teasing, it was filled with the Joseph Smith story too. It expressed how Joseph saw God. How he was told to get plates of gold from the ground. How he met Moroni. How the gold plates were kept from being seen. How Joseph wrote down what he read from the plates, and then published the Book of Mormon as the "third book in the trilogy." Joseph speaks to God often. God needs the Mormons to head west to paradise. How the Mormons kept making people angry, and then had to keep moving to a new paradise was also covered. Joseph Smith was shot. Brigham Young was the next prophet. Joseph died for what he believed in. Brigham Young got the Mormons to Salt Lake City, and they all have big mormon families. All true and the basis for this beautifully complicated religion.
By the time intermission hit, my face ached from the grin that was plastered to my face.
My heart was full and I couldn't believe we were half way already. The 15 minute intermission was almost torture to wait through. But we survived. A good thing, too; because the second half blew me away.
The missionary stretching a principle so it can apply to an investigators life, the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, and the investigator agreeing to be baptized so that she will be taken to a better life in "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" are perfect examples of what can and has happened to many people in the LDS church.
"Joseph Smith American Moses" was the most shocking song in the second half. Many missionaries, despite their best efforts, don't have investigators understand their teachings in the way that they expect them to. The misunderstanding of gospel teachings is summed up beautifully in this hilarious song. However, the basic principles of each gospel story were somehow understood. Crazy.
That was the most shocking song, but my favorite song was "Tomorrow Is A Latter Day." It was my favorite because it brings everyone, no matter what their choices are concerning the religious cafeteria that Mormons have created, they are all still Latter-Day Saints. In the latter day, they are there for each other, they are happy, they love everyone, and life is perfect.
This show surpassed every expectation I thought I had. I plan on seeing it every time I get the chance. If you have left Mormonism, you will love this show. If you are an active Mormon that can acknowledge all the craziness that fills the culture, then you will probably enjoy this show. If you are a True Blue Mormon, pretty conservative, and didn't relate to the things I mentioned above, then you will NOT like this show. Don't go see it.
If you are up for a night of side-splitting, OMG my face hurts laughter, then The Book of Mormon is the right choice for you. Get ready for a crazy ride. You're gonna love it.