-- “The Book of Mormon” is now playing at
The Fisher Theatre in Detroit. The guys from South Park are behind
it, along with Broadway veteran Robert Lopez – so I knew
it was gonna be good. I blocked off some time from my insane schedule
of juggling being an artist, novelist, musician and attorney to
have the energy and time to write a review that meets my standards.
That Complaint I'm supposed to file will have to wait a day or
was typical, over-the-top, cutting edge irreverence, making some
elderly people in the audience uncomfortable, as I overheard at
intermission; but their discomfort was completely drowned out
by a plethora of uproarious guffaws of laughter. The songs moved
the story along effortlessly and brilliantly as one should expect
from such seasoned comic geniuses as Matt Stone and Trey Parker
– creators of South Park and Team America:
World Police; so I'm not going to waste your time and mine
with a blow-by-blow recap of the Tony Award winner for Best Musical
I want to challenge myself and you with the play being a launching
pad for a discussion (albeit a one-way one) on organized religion.
Price and Elder Cunningham arrive in Uganda for their two-year
mission, they go to a remote jungle village whose tribesmen and
tribeswomen sing a song for them called “Hasa Diga Eebowai!”
which in English means, “F@#k you, God!”
and Parker, you might say, take no prisoners when it comes to
their open mocking of Mormonism, and organized religion, in general.
I am not sure if they are agnostics or atheists, into Transcendental
Meditation like Heather Graham and Clint Eastwood or whatever;
but somehow I don't think they go to church every Sunday.
was in the play wearing a string of Christmas lights, and was
played with a heavy-handed comedic voice. But, it worked; the
musical was funny and everyone left the theatre feeling they'd
been genuinely entertained.
Book of Mormon” was careful not to make any reference to
Islam. Like the South Park episode that deleted any visualization
of the Muslim prophet Mohammed, the Africa of “The Book
of Mormon” was apparently still animist, the indigenous
religion before Christianity and Islam competed and won over vast
swaths of the continent where some say it all started.
mention being proselytized by Christians, never Muslims (even
though Uganda is 12 percent Muslim according to the CIA World
Factbook, pretty low compared to a lot of African nations, but
still significant), and how they sent the missionaries on their
merry way without being swayed. Elder Price emphasizes that Mormonism
is different than orthodox Christianity; but, he, too, strikes
out. It is Elder Cunningham, with his gift of ad-libbing, who's
able to get the villagers to listen to the story of the great
American prophet Joseph Smith. I guess I can't blame them too
much for having limits on their cutting-edgeness, given the fate
of Theo van Gogh....
Koran sagely states that Mohammed is not only the greatest
prophet, he is the last prophet. I have read the
entire King James Version of The Bible and the
Penquin English Translation of The Koran, The
Prose Edda, and a lot of Hindu Upanishads,
but have only perused The Book of Mormon; but,
apparently, it makes the critical faux pas of not
saying there won't be any prophets after
Joseph Smith – which leads to some great high jinks.
Christianity, and Mormonized Christianity all have at least one
thing in common: Hell. I think Judaism has a Hell, too; but let
me get back to you on that. I'm not sure about the Druids, the
Hindus, or the Odinists, either. I know Tolkien and Led Zeppelin
have Mordor, though. There's a great scene of Mormon Hell in the
musical, by the way....
of death and pain can be great motivators. We all like to think
there is somewhere nice we can go after we die, and meet up with
our loved ones – and maybe even meet people we've never
met before. I'd love to meet Jesus and Plato, Socrates, Aristotle,
Arthur Rimbaud, John Lennon, Keith Moon, and Marilyn Monroe and
so many more. Oh, and can't forget Thomas Jefferson!
hope our pets go to Heaven, too. All mammals, I think, are capable
of Love; and if you Love, you bring a little bit of Heaven here
to Earth. I think Love is the highest consciousness, in fact.
You can quote me on that. It'd be nice if the Lord of Heaven showed
His appreciation and let cats, dogs, pigs, dolphins, et cetera,
climb up that sacred Stairway....
always have answers. Often, the most entertaining art does
raise questions, however; or, at the very least, produces an environment
in which raising questions is fecund – like the primordial
mud from which the first salamander stepped onto solid ground
after a nice swim.
you don't want to think, just want to laugh stentorianly into
the ear of the person in front of you whenever scrotums and clitorises
are mentioned, “The Book of Mormon” is the
musical for you. Eat it up, Detroit! It doesn't get any better
than this. Not until the movie, anyway.
BOOK OF MORMON, winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical,
is pleased to announce a lottery ticket policy for the First National
Tour, which begins March 12 at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit and
plays a limited two week engagement March 12-24, 2013. In Detroit,
the production will conduct a pre-show lottery at the box office,
making 20 tickets per performance available at $29 apiece, cash
only. Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two
and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print
their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase
on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will
be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $29
each. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked
for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the
time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit
one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject
'LeCage Aux Folles' is fabulous at Detroit's Fisher Theatre;
'The Lion King' is a big hit at the Detroit Opera House
credit: ©Joan Marcus, 2003
Evans and Derrick Williams in THE BOOK OF MORMON First National
credit: ©Joan Marcus, 2003
nubile Nabulungi, played by Samantha Marie Ware (second from left)
imagines Salt Lake City to be a sort of Shangri-La.