Stage: The Book of Mormon

The hit musical spoofs Mormonism, but really sticks it to Disney.

Things this hit show's creators—Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez—hate: received wisdom, Disney plasticity, Johnnie Cochran, and condescension from anyone anywhere on the politico-religious spectrum. Things they love: production numbers. (For all the potshots South Park's Stone and Parker, and their comic rival, Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane, have taken at one another, they share a taste for old-school Broadway razzle-dazzle.) Their Tony-winning musical follows two fresh-faced Mormons, dorky, porky Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O'Neill) and square-jawed, self-adoring Elder Price (Mark Evans), on their first mission to Uganda. Discovering that his confabulated Mormon myths draw converts even more effectively than the ones in his titular Book, Cunningham wreaks havoc in the village.

The comic conceit of having nerdy Mormon boys (a mini-chorus of other missionaries in the village) act reeeeeeally super-hyper-ultra gay is spread pretty thin. Fortunately, the early showstopper "Hasa Diga Eebowai" (a blithely cruel send-up of The Lion King's "Hakuna Matata"), which references clitoral circumcision and infant rape, gives the satire teeth. For most of the evening, the combination of perky tunes (by Lopez), jazz hands, and verbal atrocities keeps the show bouncing along expertly. Then Book takes off to a new, exhilarating, hilariously profane dimension when the Ugandans reinterpret, in a show-within-a-show, all that Cunningham has taught them.

Credit goes to Parker, Lopez, and Stone for creating a big, glitzy fun-fest that will be absolutely untouchable by any high-school drama department. It would be interesting to know how much future income they'll lose for each repetition of the line "Fuck you, God." No wonder a full-page ad at the center staple of Book's program, for the 5th Avenue's upcoming Music Man, reassures scandalized audiences that "Our dirtiest word is Shipoopie!"

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