Choreographer Casey Nicholaw, writer Trey Parker, writer Matt Stone, and writer/lyricist Robert Lopez take a bow during the curtain call on the opening night of “the Book of Mormon” on Broadway at Eugene O’Neill Theatre on March 24, 2011 in New York City. Credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Who’s it more fun to write songs for – puppets, cartoon characters or Mormons? Ask Trey Parker and Matt Stone, co-creators of the South Park animated TV series, the epic superhero/puppet saga Team America and the musical Broadway smash The Book of Mormon.
Why a musical about an obscure minority religion founded by a 19th century self-proclaimed prophet? Both Stone and Parker grew up in Colorado, where many of the friends belonged to the Church of Latter-Day Saints, and have long shared a fascination with the culture. They found creative synergy with Avenue Q’s lyricist/composer Robert Lopez, who recalls that the seed of the project was planted the night they all met, and is meant to speak to broader themes about faith. “I think it all came from our interest in religion,” he has said, “That was the point we always wanted to make about religion being a lie and yet ultimately true.”
Somehow, the trio tapped into the zeitgeist – who could have guessed that a year after the show’s premiere, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney would inspire nationwide scrutinization of all things LDS? And how do Mormons feel about their beliefs being made fodder for song and dance? They love it, says Parker. Stone adds, “We actually have a lot of Mormon fans…[who] see it as their Fiddler on the Roof.”
With religion-themed show-stoppers like “All-American Prophet” and “I Believe,” The Book of Mormon may not be every theater-goer’s cup of tea. But if singing, dancing and proselytizing is your idea of jolly entertainment, you might want to make it your mission to see this production.
Trey Parker, co-creator of The Book of Mormon, South Park and Team America; actor, director, screenwriter, animator and producer
Matt Stone, co-creator of The Book of Mormon, South Park and Team America; actor, director, screenwriter, animator and producer
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