Broadway

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon musical sign at the Eugene O’Neill Theater in Broadway

The Broadway musical The Book of Mormon is a musical comedy with lyrics, music, and book by EGOT winner Robert Lopez and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The play became a runaway hit that climbed the charts as years passed by. This musical won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It has grossed more than $500 million, making it one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all time.

The Book of Mormon follows two mismatched Mormon missionaries on their troubled mission to a remote village in Uganda. It’s a satirical examination of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint’s beliefs that endorses the power of service and love. It’s a hysterical, irreverent and surprisingly sweet mixture of religion, culture shock, and classic musical theater.

Production History

Original Broadway Production

The show opened on Broadway in March 2011, after about seven years of development. The idea for the show was conceived by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone were familiar with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They two became friends at the University of Colorado Boulder and collaborated on a musical film in 1993. They created the TV series South Park in 1997, and its musical film in 1999. The duo first thought of a fictionalized Joseph Smith, the founder and religious leader of the Latter Day Saint movement.

When the show opened, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded with indifference, but they did buy advertising space in its playbill in the later runs. The show contains many religious themes, satirizing organized religion and its credibility, but The Book of Mormon is portrayed as optimistic and well-meaning. It garnered positive critical responses and set records in ticket sales for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

The original Broadway cast recording landed the top spot as the highest-charting Broadway cast album in more than four decades.

The 2011 Broadway production was co-directed by Casey Nicholaw and Parker, and choreographed by Nicholaw. The set design was by Scott Pask, with lighting by Brian MacDevitt, costumes by Ann Roth, and sound by Brian Ronan. The original Broadway cast included:

  • Andrew Rannells as Elder Kevin Price
  • Josh Gad as Elder Arnold Cunningham
  • Nikki M. James as Nabulungi
  • Rory O’Malley as Elder McKinley
  • Michael Potts as MafalaHatimbi
  • Lewis Cleale as Jesus, Joseph Smith, Mission President, and Price’s Dad
  • Brian Tyree Henry as General

Original West End production

In 2013, the UK production debuted in the West End at the Prince of Wales Theatre and was followed by two US national tours. The London cast members organized a gala performance of The Book of Mormon to raise money for a British Charity. In 2014, the musical was voted Funniest West End Show as part of the West End Frame Awards. The original West End cast include:

  • Gavin Creel as Elder Kevin Price
  • Jared Gertner as Elder Arnold Cunningham
  • Alexia Khadime as Nabulungi
  • Stephen Ashfield as Elder McKinley
  • Giles Terera as MafalaHatimbi
  • Haydn Oakley as Jesus, Joseph Smith, Mission President, and Price’s Dad
  • Chris Jarman as General

Plot Overview

The hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon follows two different Latter-day Saints missionaries: Elder Price, the enthusiastic, sincere, go-getter with a strong dedication to his faith; and Elder Cunningham, a socially-awkward, nerdy person whose tendency to make up stories lands him in trouble. Upon reaching northern Uganda, the two are robbed by soldiers of a local warlord. And when they reached the local population, they are challenged by people’s lack of interest in religion as they learn that the people are more focused on the more pressing issues of their community like poverty, famine, violence, AIDS epidemic, female genital mutilation, and the oppression from the despotic warlords.

While Elder Price battles his own expectations and doubts, Elder Cunningham fights his inability to remember the scripture and tell the truth. When Price asked to be reassigned to Orlando, he left Cunningham in Uganda. Cunningham is crushed, but when Nabulungi comes to him with interest in the Book of Mormon and their promise of an earthly paradise, Cunningham takes control of the situation. He makes up stories by combining what he knows about their religion’s doctrine, with pieces of science fiction and fantasy like the Hobbits, Star Wars, and some information about his father. The locals accept such stories quite vividly.

Cunningham announces that several Ugandans are now interested in the church, but Elder McKinley points out that no one will convert unless the General is dealt with. Price decides to come back to Uganda to finish his mission. He confronts the General to convert him but is unimpressed.

When the mission president comes to Uganda to visit, he is appalled by what the villagers have learned, reflecting the distortions from Cunningham’s stories and false doctrines. After hearing that what Cunningham taught was untrue, Nabulungi gets heartbroken, curses God, and returns to submit to the General. However, she protects Cunningham’s reputation by saying that he was eaten by a lion. Price and Cunningham discover this cover-up by Nabulungi and arrive as “resurrected” beings to scare the General and his men away. Price leads the members of the church and the Ugandans, and they work together to make their own paradise. Later on, the newly minted Ugandan leaders – the General included – are seen going door to door to evangelize using “The Book of Arnold.”

Songs

Act I

  • “Hello” – Mormons
  • “Two by Two” – Price, Mormons
  • “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” – Price, Cunningham
  • “HasaDigaEebowai” – Mafala, Price, Cunningham, and Ugandans
  • “Turn It Off” – McKinley, Mormons
  • “I Am Here for You” – Cunningham, Price
  • “All American Prophet” – Price, Cunningham, Joseph Smith, Angel Moroni, and Company
  • “Sal TlayKaSiti” – Nabulungi
  • “I Am Here for You” (Reprise) – Cunningham
  • “Man Up” – Cunningham, Nabulungi, Price, Doctor, Company
  • “Hello” – Mormons
  • “Two by Two” – Price, Mormons
  • “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” – Price, Cunningham
  • “HasaDigaEebowai” – Mafala, Price, Cunningham, and Ugandans
  • “Turn It Off” – McKinley, Mormons
  • “I Am Here for You” – Cunningham, Price
  • “All American Prophet” – Price, Cunningham, Joseph Smith, Angel Moroni, and Company
  • “Sal TlayKaSiti” – Nabulungi
  • “I Am Here for You” (Reprise)† – Cunningham
  • “Man Up” – Cunningham, Nabulungi, Price, Doctor, Company

Act II

  • “Making Things Up Again” – Cunningham, Cunningham’s Dad, Joseph Smith, Mormon, Moroni, Uhura, Darth Vader, Hobbits, Ugandans
  • “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” – Price, Lucifer, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnnie Cochran, Ensemble
  • “I Believe” – Price, Ensemble
  • “Baptize Me” – Cunningham and Nabulungi
  • “I Am Africa” – McKinley, Cunningham, Doctor, Mormons
  • “Joseph Smith American Moses” – Ugandans
  • “HasaDigaEebowai” (Reprise) – Nabulungi
  • “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” (Reprise)† – Price and Cunningham
  • “Tomorrow Is a Latter Day” – Price, Cunningham, McKinley, Nabulungi, Company
  • “Hello” (Reprise) – Company
  • “Encore” – Company

Awards

Broadway Production

  • Best Musical, Tony Award (2011)
  • Best Book of a Musical, Tony Award (2011) – Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker
  • Best Original Score, Tony Award (2011) – Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker
  • Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Tony Award (2011) – Nikki M. James
  • Best Direction of a Musical, Tony Award (2011) – Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
  • Best Orchestrations, Tony Award (2011) – Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus
  • Best Scenic Design, Tony Award (2011) – Scott Pask
  • Best Lighting Design, Tony Award (2011) – Brian MacDevitt
  • Best Sound Design, Tony Award (2011) – Brian Ronan
  • Outstanding Musical, Drama Desk Award (2011)
  • Outstanding Lyrics, Drama Desk Award (2011) – Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker
  • Outstanding Music, Drama Desk Award (2011) – Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical, Drama Desk Award (2011) – Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
  • Outstanding Orchestrations, Drama Desk Award (2011) – Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus
  • Outstanding New Broadway Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award (2011)
  • Outstanding New Score, Outer Critics Circle Award (2011) – Robert Lopez, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker
  • Outstanding Director of a Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award (2011) – Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
  • Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award (2011) – Josh Gad
  • Best Musical Theater Album, Grammy Award (2012)

London Production

  • Best New Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (2014)
  • Best Actor in a Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (2014) – Gavin Creel
  • Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (2014) – Stephen Ashfield
  • Best Theatre Choreographer, Laurence Olivier Award (2014) – Casey Nicholaw

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