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Book of Mormon musical plays with religion in satire

“The Book of Mormon” is coming to the Morrison Center in July of next year, to the delight of many theater-goers and the suspicion of those that hold the Latter Day Saint religion close to their hearts.

For those less familiar with the production, this satirical musical is not based on the book of scripture that many of the Boise Mormon population place great importance upon. It is rather a full-on performance that plays with the intricacies of Mormonism, specifically missionaries, in a song- and dance-filled storyline.  Whether it comes across as harmlessly playful or pointedly hurtful is up to the audience members.

The play follows the plight of a pair of missionaries stationed in Uganda.  It pokes fun at multiple aspects of Mormonism, including “turning off” homosexual feelings, wearing sacred undergarments, and working with unknowledgeable mission partners.

The production, as described by junior New York University computer science major Sara Linsley is “immensely vulgar and offensive, but in a way that makes every single person in the audience laugh.”

Linsley stood in line for five hours to get discounted standing room tickets to see the play in New York City.  She hoped the play would help her understand Mormonism more but instead came away feeling further confused. She was, however, thoroughly entertained and plans on seeing it again.

“I think it’s all in good fun,” said Linsley.  “It’s not exactly politically correct, but it wouldn’t be a comedy if it were.”

Active member of the LDS faith and junior equine studies student at the College of Southern Idaho Shayla French has not seen the play but is not as enchanted by the idea of the production or its soundtrack as Linsley.

“It’s pretty harsh to poke at something someone believes in,” she said.

“‘The Book of Mormon’ is a satire,” explained Linsley, “but it does have a lot of things that even very religious people can relate to.”  She continued to describe one of the main characters, Arnold, and his struggle to do what is morally correct without having a solid piece of scripture to back himself up every time.

Linsley warned against watching the play with a critical eye.  She encouraged potential viewers to instead enjoy the play and not worry about the extreme intricacies.

“It’s from the creators of South Park, not Romeo and Juliet,” she commented.

In the larger scheme of things, French thinks that the production gives members of the Mormon faith an opportunity to shed light on their religion.

“This play has given the LDS members a chance to reach out and correct the wrong ideas that may be construed by media,” French said.

However, French gave a nod to the fact that the play is, in fact, cemented in fiction.

“And that’s all it is; a story,” she said.  “It doesn’t portray how every mission is in any way.”

Though French has held that she probably wouldn’t go to see the play, Linsley encouraged those interested in the play to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify.

“I’ve seen a lot of artsy, off-broadway plays in my time,” she said. “The Book of Mormon made me laugh and cry in ways that the other plays couldn’t.”

About Justin Kirkham (124 Articles)
Justin Kirkham is currently the Editor-in-Chief at the Arbiter and has been pursuing journalism since high school. Having interned as a blogger for YouTuber Strawburry17 and having invested far too many hours in news and cultural writing, he aims to continue working within the realms of gaming/technology, environmental and social justice journalism. He is strangely attuned to pop culture and can name both of Taylor Swift's cats.
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