The Book Of Mormon isn’t just about faith
Book Of Mormon offers insight into friendship and love
Since its Broadway premiere in 2011, The Book Of Mormon has been a critically acclaimed hit.
Eight years on, the satirical musical comedy is one of the most successful musicals of all time, grossing over US$500 million (S$684 million) and bagging nine Tony Awards.
And Base Entertainment Asia is in the planning stages of bringing it to Singapore in the near future.
Despite its title, the play is not a story about faith.
It follows Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, a pair of bright-eyed, Utah-raised Mormons sent to Uganda, Africa, for their two-year Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission to convert the natives.
The brainchild of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker as well as songwriter Robert Lopez, who composed the songs on the hit Disney animated movies Frozen and Frozen 2. It features provocative humour and pokes fun at everything from religion and racism to Aids and homophobia.
But all this is done with a sincere message of loving one another, with overarching themes of friendship, love and community as the production's main aim, said cast member Nyk Bielak, 30, who plays Elder Cunningham.
Speaking to The New Paper backstage at the Crown Theatre Perth last month, where The Book Of Mormon was staged to a full house and even received a standing ovation, the Canadian actor said: "People get so bogged down by the theology of everything that there's less focus on what it's actually all about."
He added: "It's crude and vulgar but it really is about two 19-year-old boys with no life experiences whatsoever teaming up to help bring a community together and solve some big problems."
Blake Bowden, 35, who plays Elder Price, credits The Book Of Mormon's success to its universal story of two mismatched friends put together in the most unexpected of places to overcome life's hurdles.
The Australian actor said: "Ultimately, it's a story of the 'odd couple', of two friends so different from each other, coming together. No matter what background you come from, it will be entertaining because it is something relatable."
The play's humour comes from the clashing of two different worlds, added Bowden.
REAL WORLD PROBLEMS
Agreeing with his co-star, Bielak said: "It's a funny situation to put two extremely religious guys in a place like Uganda, where there are real world problems.
"The locals just needed clean water but here the Elders are trying to tell them that if they follow this book, everything will be better," he said.
Bowden said that the play, despite its vulgar and crass moments, is not making a mockery of the church.
Rather, he said, the show is "super faith-positive" and audiences are encouraged to be able to laugh at themselves.
He said: "People who haven't seen the show would focus on the potentially vulgar moments. Those moments exist but that's not the whole thing. At the end of the day, the show's pillars sit on community and love - that's what religion is built for."