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'The Book of Mormon': The Genii of 'South Park' Hit Broadway, and History is Made

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Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty


The Book of Mormon
Directed by: Trey Parker, Casey Nicholaw
Book, Music and Lyrics by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Robert Lopez
Starring: Josh Gad, Andrew Rannells, Nikki M. James
Rating: ****

No, it's not a movie (yet). The Book of Mormon is the first-ever Broadway musical comedy from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and it should keep audiences in shock and awe for years. They had me at "Hello." Which is how two Utah teens/Mormon missionaries, Elder Price (megatalented Andrew Rannells) and Elder Cunningham (megafunny Josh Gad), greet potential converts in Uganda. Fed up with poverty, AIDS and an epidemic of baby-raping, the Ugandans sing, "Fuck you, God," and comic bliss breaks loose in ways The Lion King never imagined.

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Parker and Stone, collaborating with Avenue Q's Robert Lopez, make sure the laughs come big, long and uncut. No joke goes out without a sting. That makes it the new gold standard for rowdy fun on Broadway. But Parker and Stone also show an un-ironic compassion for the fallible humans caught in the web of religious hypocrisy. The score, a diabolically melodic and merry blend of Monty Python and Rodgers and Hammerstein, is on its march into legend (get the cast album).

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Parker's mad-gifted work as director (he shared duties with showstopping choreographer Casey Nicholaw) will only come as a revelation to Oscar-voting dickheads who don't know that 1999's South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was the best movie musical in decades. Fuck Chicago! A better heaven would shower this show with Tonys and insure that Justin Bieber doesn't star in the movie version (on second thought, hmmm). For hilarity you can hum, The Book of Mormon is as good as it gets. You'll laugh till it hurts, which is just the way Parker and Stone like it. Come on Mormons, go into your dance.

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Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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