Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 147 - The Book of Mormon

I have never seen The Book of Mormon. For those that are unfamiliar, The Book of Mormon is a Broadway musical written by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. For a bit of background, The Book of Mormon took the musical scene by storm several years ago, snagged more awards than anyone could have expected, and remains one of the most popular Broadway shows around the country. While I didn’t have plans to visit New York and watch The Book of Mormon on the actual Broadway, I knew I wanted to see a performance of the musical when I learned Broadway across America was running The Book of Mormon in Chicago. As a result, I contacted the funniest person I know and one of my lifelong best friends, Ryan, to see if he wanted to make the trip down to attend The Book of Mormon with me on the show’s closing night. As someone that has been trying to see the show in Minneapolis for some time, Ryan was happy to take me up on the offer, which set into motion today’s “I have never...” event.

You're lookin' good, Chicago

Let me start by stating Ryan and I are not connoisseurs of musicals or Broadway by any means. Although my musical background makes me more open to the idea of watching musicals, it isn’t something I actively seek out in my life. As for Ryan, I’m quite certain this is the only musical he has ever wanted to see in his life; a fact which will probably remain that way for quite a long time. However, Ryan and I knew The Book of Mormon would be a laugh riot based on the musical’s origins alone. As two guys that grew up with South Park, Ryan and I have come to know the brand of humor behind Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s work very well. Sure, we didn’t have any knowledge of The Book of Mormon’s plot beyond the basic premise, but we knew anything that was written by Trey and Matt was sure to produce an unforgettable experience, if only for the profane human alone.

As a result, Ryan and I eagerly anticipated today’s experience with The Book of Mormon as we made the trip down to Chicago this morning. With several hours between Madison and the city, we talked about what to expect between the unrelenting stream of our own jokes we cracked on the drive south. Although both of our faces were already numb from laughter by the time we arrived at the theatre, we were certainly ready for more humor. In turn, we parked our car, stuffed a quick bite to eat in our faces, and made our way to the theatre as soon as we arrived to downtown Chicago.

Excited is an understatement
Now, I won’t spend time talking about the plot and progression of The Book of Mormon. Instead, I will simply say this is, by far, the funniest live performance of anything I have ever seen. Although the show is not for the easily offended, it offers a near non-stop stream of hilarity that inspires gut-busting laughter throughout the performance. As is common in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s work, the musical also carries messages, appearing as equally subdued and overt, that point out the ridiculousness and sometimes backwards nature of human beings. I will be the first to admit some of the musical’s parts are what some people would call “over the top”, but the quality of the music, the fullness of the story, and the underlying messages of the work speak for themselves. The Book of Mormon is just a good show, and anyone who says otherwise clearly missed the message. That stated, good luck finding anybody who attending a showing of The Book of Mormon and didn’t walk away entertained...

By the time the show reached its conclusion, Ryan and I could only recap some of the funniest moments of The Book of Mormon as we headed for the exits and found our way back to my car. Although I went into today’s “I have never...” experience expecting a funny show, a part of me feared that Trey Parker and Matt Stone would tame their usually controversial style of humor for a Broadway show. I was happy to see they did not. Let’s put it this way, a Broadway show now has a scene where Jonnie Cochran, Ghegis Khan, Jeffery Dahmer, Hitler, and Satan dance, sing, and momentarily perform profane acts with demons in a Mormon’s nightmare. That’s a thing… and it is in a Broadway musical. There is no other way describe this show as hilarious. Anyone with sense of humor should see it as soon as possible. It is that funny, and it is that good.

My only photo of the stage...
photography during the performance was prohibited

After today’s experience I don’t think I will ever view Broadway musicals the same, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Book of Mormon has fundamentally shifted any preconceived notion I had about the intersection of humor and Broadway forever. Not only can I now say I would be more likely to go to a Broadway comedy, I can honestly say I would go to another showing of The Book of Mormon in a heartbeat. While the humor was enough to carry the show, the music, choreography, and performers were the real deal in every sense. Needless to say, I think The Book of Mormon is worth every penny for the ticket price, and I’m very happy I made a trip to see this show a part of my “I have never...” year. Of course, having a good friend like Ryan come along made it all the more enjoyable, but this one would have been worth it even if I had to make the six hour round trip by myself. What else can I say? This show is amazing. Go see it!

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