The Book of Mormon: The Musical! The Soundtrack-Act 1

BoM:The Musical is now available on iTunes and Amazon.com.

“Hello! I would like to share this book about Jewish Naval Indians with you!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You lucky sons of bitches that get to see this performed on stage. I hope you know how lucky you are, because those of us outside of NYC that so desperately want to see the greatest musical ever written would quite possibly gut their beloved dogs taun taun-style if that’s what it takes to get a ticket. We have to be satisfied with just the soundtrack. Fortunately, this is such a well-written musical that we can see the high kicking Mormon missionaries in our imagination, and can pretend that we’re right there.

If ever there was a piece of theater written with me in mind, I have to believe this is the one. For any new folks not familiar with my bonafides, I’ll let you know that I was a devout Mormon from one of the original Utah [pioneer, polygamous] Mormon families, my cousin is one of the General Authorities (pretty sweet title, if you can get it), my father writes LDS hymns, and I helped the Texas Rangers bust the dirt bags that run the polygamous compound in Texas. I’ve also been writing a memoir about all of this and waffle on my feelings for the LDS church. Not gonna lie, this musical has given me a soft spot for my old religion again, something I never thought possible.

But you’re here to read about the most joyous song ever written about female circumcision, so let’s get to it, okay? Okay! I’m mostly going to catch you up on some of the inside info so you can get just how amazing the music and lyrics are.

 

Opening Number: Hello! “My Name is Elder Grant and I would like to share with you the most amazing book!”

When you get your mission call, you head to the MTC, the Missionary Training Center, in Provo, Utah. There you learn how to interact with the public in a gentle, endearing way all while wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt and a beatific grin. Most importantly, you learn how to show pictures in your hard-back binder in such a way so that when you close it, their eyes will follow the action up to your face, where you will look serenely back. But you gotta get through that door, first.

The music here is stellar, it’s so old school Rodgers and Hammerstein, but then you have the “Hope you enjoy hell!” line that is pure Matt and Trey. By the way, they are my ideal man. The two of them together. I have specific turn ons, what can I say? Also interesting to note, all of the Elders names (the missionaries) are some of the most prevalent Utah names there are: Grant, Smith, Young, Price… Awesome attention to detail. A Jensen, Sorensen or Christensen would have been icing.

 

Two By Two “’Cause God Loves Mormons and He Wants Some More!”

Every missionary will tell you that “it’s not about the numbers.” It’s totally about the numbers. The more people you baptize on your mission, the holier and more beloved of God you are. Guys who go to Latin America come back after having baptized hundreds. They’re like gods. True story, my cousin went to Warsaw, not a single lesson, let alone baptism. He came back unbelievably depressed and unhappy, questioning his self worth.

One little religious note, though, you don’t get paired up with a companion in the MTC, and you don’t stay with them your whole mission. You get passed around every few months, paired up with someone who’s been out for a while if you’re new, or you get someone new (a “Greenie”) to train. Quibble, I know, and it helps them with their joke to gloss over this, but that’s the kind of thing that pisses Mormons off because they’re petty like that and I wish they wouldn’t let an unimportant fact close them off from the rest of it.

One of the hardest laughs I had in this whole musical was Elder Price wishing he could go to the most magical place on earth, Orlando. So perfect: manufactured purity and “family values.” Well, the putt putt is pretty boss. I could do without the humidity, though. So instead of Disney World, they’re sent to Uganda, and of course they know nothing of Africa. It’ll be like The Lion King minus Scar and the hyenas, right?

The Elders clapping as they sing is one of the catchiest bits, and yes, I did clap along this morning to my iPod as I jogged through the neighborhood. You can’t help it! And if this song doesn’t show up in roadshows – Mormon talent shows – across the country then I’ll eat my hat. (Note that my hat is made of chocolate, so it’s not a hardship.) There’s a Mormon hymn “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission!” that might get edged out as the most popular pre-mission song if members could let themselves sing the chorus here.

 

You And Me (But Mostly Me) “Every dinner needs a side dish on a slightly smaller plate”

One of the worst times of my life was trying to date return missionaries while I was in college in Utah. So full of themselves, so filled with their own sense of importance, you have to pretty much sit at their knee and beam up at them to get them to notice you. Which means that I didn’t date a lot of them. “I’ll do something incredible that blows God’s freaking mind!” Sure you will, kid. And this mission is all about you. Not, say, the people to whom you’re delivering the message. I’m sorry, did you say something?

 

Hasa Diga Eebowai “Many of our girls get circumcised, their clits get cut right off! [Way-oh!]”

In case you forgot this was a Parker-Stone collaboration, here’s your reminder. As the Elders join in this Hakuna Matata tribute (actually, it reminds me a lot of “Under the Sea”) the actual meaning comes out and it takes the dorky Elder a bit to realize he’s been singing “Fuck you, God” over and over. I also love that the Elders rattle off all of their First World problems while the Africans sing about 80% of them having AIDS and baby raping – you know, to cure yourself from the AIDS. Just a toe tapping little number, this one. And it really, really is.

One of the smarter things they’ve done with the play book is to have the Mormons so clean cut, so 50s with their manner of speech (which is how they actually are) and juxtapose that with the harsh reality of people who live in war torn lands with little to no resources, people who happily tell it like it is. “If you don’t like what we say/ Try living here a couple days/ Watch all of your friends and family die/ Hasa Diga Eebowai!” If you can listen to this and not sing along, “Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-ah” then you’re a stronger person than I.

 

Turn It Off! “Find the box that’s gay and CRUSH IT!”

The other missionaries get their big Chorus Line-style number, and this is one of the songs that I need to see performed in my life. Need like I need air. What I love so much about Trey and Matt is how they get it, they get the little quirks that set Mormons apart, like how you should just ignore those nagging thoughts, any emotion that doesn’t promote your own faith. Just compartmentalize that stuff and ignore it, yay!

The bit with the kid who’s sister was dying of cancer, so he went to stand in line at the Apple Store, because dealing with icky death is scary! Not to mention that for Mormons, when you die, you’re not really dead, you’re just waiting for the rest of the family, so don’t get all maudlin! Mormons don’t wear black to funerals, did you know that? Sorry, just thought I’d mention it.

True story, a friend of mine got married in St. George (the temple, of course) and his sister didn’t come to the wedding reception because she was on a date. I mean, guys, he could have been The One, and gosh, her brother will be her brother for eternity! He gets it.

That’s weird, right? I mean we all agree that’s weird? But if that bothers you, just turn it off!

 

I Am Here For You “Evening star shines brightly, God makes life anew”

Josh Gad is awesome, and his deeper voice after getting a little praise never fails to crack me up. Also, I want to turn this into the song I sing to my kids at night, if only to be creepy. My style of parenting isn’t for everyone, agreed.  (It’s the hockey mask with lipstick that pushes it over the edge, right?  Okay, no lipstick on the mask, good concrit, folks, thanks.)

 

All American Prophet “I’m gonna take you back to biblical times: 1823!”

For me, this is the most technically and thematically perfect song in the whole production. It has everything, a nod to Donny Osmond’s performance in Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat, some Music Man, a tiny Fiddler on the Roof riff, freaking Star Wars jokes, and so much damn dogma worked in that it’s breathtaking.

On one hand, they’re totally making fun of the ridiculousness that is the origin story of the LDS church, but on the other, they’re pretty respectful to it, which is quite the sleight of hand. What’s great is that this song details the Official Origins story, which went through about seven drafts before the leaders decided on this one. Now, it’s fabricated, there are holes galore in the story, but try telling a Mormon that. No really, go try. People tried to tell me it was manufactured, tried to tell me the stuff that makes it seem really weird (like how Joseph had been arrested for graft, how he made claims in his late teens/early twenties of being a god damned necromancer) but that isn’t what’s important.

What’s important is that all of those Mormons had big Mormon families until one day, they made me, and I’m here to share with you the truthiness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Mormon version.

The only problem I have with this song is the joke at the end by Josh Gad, “If you order now I’ll also throw in a set of steak knives!” It just falls flat, too obviously jokey. (From a listening to a soundtrack stand point, mind.) But if that’s the only problem, then that’s pretty swell.

 

Sal Tlay Ka Siti “I bet the goat meat there is plentiful and they have vitamin injections by the case!”

Oh laws, the magical wonderland of Salt Lake City, where Red Cross has plenty of flour for everyone. And the funny thing is that there is a ton of flour there, the Lehi Roller Mills are filled to the brim with it. (That’s the establishing shot in Footloose, by the way. Locals like to tell people how Continental they are, you see.)

“I bet the people there are open-minded and don’t care who you’ve been.” Oh, bless your heart, Jonbonjovi. And Nikki M. James has an utterly gorgeous and clear voice. Never has the phrase, “soon life won’t be so…shitty” sound so ethereal.

And what’s great is how untrue her fantasy version of Utah is. Boy, if you’re not from there, you do not belong there. I took a friend from New Zealand camping in Utah recently and she commented on how everyone was staring at us with menacing undertones. Remember the creepy ginger kid from Children of the Corn, “INTERLOPER!”

Your back is up, waiting for that to be shouted at you. (He wants you, too, Malachi.)  AHH!! Run away!

 

Man Up “Jesus manned up, took a bullet for me and you”

There’s something about 80s power ballads that stuck with Trey Parker, and I’m a-ok with that. He puts a song like this in everything he does (“We’re gonna do a montage!”) and Josh Gad gets what makes those songs funny to Trey. Also, I get a little thrill any time several story lines get knit together in musical form (see: “La Resistance”) – you put that together in a “Jesus Christ Superstar” vein, and I’m overcome with happiness.

Also, the rock-style singing fits Josh’s voice far better than the “whiner” voice he affects for his character. I have sinus-singer issues, I can’t help it. I imagine it sounds less brassy in person – acoustics are a huge part of why you should see things like this live.

 

OK, gang, that’s Intermission, let’s go get a cocktail, hit the head, then rejoin for Act 2.  (Which is right here!)


Please like & share:
  • You educate me and entertain me like no other…

    My crush on Trey and Matt began when Cartman got probed. My official love began when Jesus and Santa had a shoot out in the Middle East and Satan and Saddam were lovers. I’ve never looked back.

    • Laura Stone

      I try to bring the edumacation when I can…

      I have had a crush on those two since that first ep of South Park, and have loved them through Orgazmo to this musical. I think they would be the only famous people I would tremble in front of, no lie. NOT EVEN OPRAH, MEL.

  • Did you also love BASEketball. Because I did. Loads and loads. (and I always thought I was alone in this. Tell me I’m not alone…)

    I get the trembling…though I would probably tremble in front of Oprah. Especially if I met South Park version. Oh and I would definitely tremble in front of South Park version of Rosie O’Donnell. hahahah

    • Laura Stone

      YES. That was when I still liked Jenny McCarthy. Her casual “Here” as she hands over a bald trailer hitch with chrome flakes all around her mouth is one of the greater sight gags. Not to mention that the game they created is awesome. And Trey Parker does Cartman and he squinches his face to make that voice and I lose it EVERY TIME.

      BUT WHAT ABOUT MECHA-BAHBOOWAH? Lol.

  • Robin McDougall The Fourth

    I took a friend from New Zealand camping in Utah recently and she commented on how everyone was staring at us with menacing undertones.

    That friend of yours sounds like a real judgemental douchebag. I bet they’re a puppy fondling meth head. (Never have I been in a city as white as SLC, was and felt like my whiteness stuck out like a beacon from their whiteness. I felt like a Mexican in a Icelandic pub, which for the sake of this simile, would feel slightly unsettling, even though I’m sure that there are Icelandic pubs right this minute throwing a Mexican celebration day for all their loyal Mexican patrons.)

    I bought two (TWO) lotto tickets this week, so when I win, which is a given with the amount of tickets I bought, we will fly up to NYC and wave our lighters about for when the Hasa Diga Cross Your Legs song plays.

    • Laura Stone

      I read the first sentence and thought it must be my Kiwi friend. Or a real doucheloogey trolling.

      I love that SLC is so “international” and “wild.” You know, for Utah.

      I am so excited that I know a soon to be gazillionaire! I’m going to hit you up for several loans to start businesses, like a business to sleep all day.

      • Robin McDougall The Fourth

        Can’t I be both?

        There were a smattering of bars and cafes in SLC. I was both disgusted and hepped up on caffeinated alcohol.

        They should preach that there will be repercussions for not being nice to people outside of preaching to them, like only getting a moon instead of a planet in the afterlife. They can call it being Celestially Plutoed.

        • Laura Stone

          But you ARE both! Way to reach for the stars!

          And there ARE those repercussions in the doctrine! NO, REALLY.

          • Robin McDougall The Fourth

            SERIOUSLY? That is the best news I’ve heard today. From here on in I’m signing up to be a lukewarm Mormon so one day I too can inherit my own comet and ride about it in the afterlife waving about my cowboy hat and yelling out wahooo! as I traverse the universe.

  • I listened to it as I went walking this morning too! (I don’t jog, because I’m lazy and uncoordinated so going faster than a brisk walk might be the death of me and everyone else!) I kept giggling like a loon and freaking out the old people walking their very small dogs in the park. So hard to not sing along to the chorus of “Fuck you, God”. :D

    • Laura Stone

      “Fuck you in the other eye!” It really REALLY is hard to not sing along out loud, right? I’ve been busted on a jog singing along with “America! FUCK YEAH!” and they didn’t think it was as funny as I did. But come on, sushi? Taco Bell? That’s hilarious.

      • Oh man I’m listening to the whole thing again (I’ll probably listen to it the rest of week on repeat) and while Hello was playing I pulled up next to the local LDS center! I almost died from the LOLZ.
        While I love Musicals and Broadway and plays and all that shit, I wish they’d tape the stage productions for all of us who don’t live in New York. I seriously want to see this play, along with Avenue Q, and the latest Frankenstein. I’d even pay! Well… no, I’d pay. Something.

        • Laura Stone

          I’d even go to the local movie theater for one of those “Metropolitan Opera” nights for this one. And yeah – Avenue Q, too!

          BAH. I have FF miles that I can get to NYC with, but tickets are near impossible to get, I’ve heard.

          • I know right?! I’m expecting this show to have a long and awesome run. Maybe even as long as CATS! But I’d still like to see the original cast.

  • Mike

    I saw it in New York a week after it opened, and at first I was also turned off by the line “If you order now I’ll also throw in a set of steak knives!” But then I realized just how the whole song was a parody of an infomercial: someone is trying to sell something ridiculous, and there’s always their helper who’s there to say, “Wow, it really works!” and “How much does it cost?” And that’s exactly what Elder Cunningham is doing in that scene, only to the n-th degree (because, of course, this is a parody).

    Really the only thing that still doesn’t sit with me about the show, after having listened to the soundtrack over and over again, is the handful of “I have maggots in my scrotum” shoutouts. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • Laura Stone

      I mean, yeah, I get that Elder Price is the barker and Elder Cunningham is the plant in the crowd, but I just… I don’t know, it just feels too “jokey” like it’s too obvious. I’ve come to expect more clever things from Matt & Trey, that’s all. And really, if this is the “problem” that I have with the whole production, it’s pretty tight – it’s just a small quibble I have.

      And really, re: maggots in my scrotum? I thought it was pretty funny, especially when Elder Price is talking about how hard the Mormons had it moving from place to place (with all of their things, and homes and health) meanwhile here in Africa they have actual harrowing situations. You know, like the doctor who has maggots in his scrotum. LOL. But I can see how it doesn’t sit well with someone else.

      • Mike

        I felt that if anything was too jokey, it was the maggots in my scrotum line. They could have gotten the point you mentioned across by using a more subtle example; using maggots and scrotum just kinda felt like they were grasping for a laugh because they used the words “maggots” and “scrotum” in the same sentence. And when you put something that jokeish that stands out so much, it kinda throws off the momentum. People in the audience were kinda confused about it.

        But again, this is just my small quibble. Just like you said, if this is the one line in the entire production I don’t like, clearly it’s no big deal.

        • Laura Stone

          Oh, okay, I see what you mean. Yes, the constant refrain can def. come off as a hook that gets tiresome. That’s interesting to hear about the audience’s reaction! And I’m right there with you: if this is the level of our criticism, they’ve clearly done a great job. I’m just so happy to have someone engage in music/comedy timing talk with me!

      • DellC

        Just to take Mike’s point a little further: the infomercial aspect is introduced because the ever-eager Cunningham wants to help his “best friend” Price with the presentation, and Price, rather than rebuff him outright, says that Cunningham can stand off to one side and act enthusiastic, adding (just to make sure the rather thick Cunningham gets it), “y’know, like they do on infomercials.” Cunningham, overjoyed to be included, plays it to the hilt.

        Actually, I think Gad’s subtlety-free performance is one of the big problems with the cast recording. Just saw the show in Chicago; both of the big dailies’ critics essentially said, “thank God they found someone to play Cunningham who isn’t going full-throttle at every moment” and I wholeheartedly agree. (Ben Platt’s the guy’s name.)

        “Maggots in my scrotum” works for me because it’s such a silly joke in such a prominent spot(s). I can’t defend myself better than that, although behind my merriment lurked the suspicion that the writers had simply been stuck for a rhyme for “showed ’em” and decided, what the hell. The actual circumstances were different (I saw it explained by them on a YouTube video) but it did amount to a “what the hell” moment.

  • Mike

    The show is brilliantly done, but one of the difficulties is that it’s so hard for the average audience member to appreciate how really smartly written the show is when they’re taking in so much (and missing a few lyrics here and there behind the hysterical laughter of the audience). A bit of the humor, especially the more subtle parts, got lost on a lot of people. When I originally saw it my thoughts were that the high points were better than Avenue Q (my previous all-time favorite musical) but that there were a few serious lulls that really felt like weak points. But after listening to the CD several (dozen) times, I’m falling in love with more and more of the other songs.

    Another thing is that the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream just seemed kinda weird when I saw the show. Then I went online and read about many (ex-) Mormons having spooky Mormon hell dreams when they had broken a rule, and the whole song ended up fitting a lot better with the rest of the show.

    • Laura Stone

      I’m LOLing about the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream – as I mentioned in the review, I had it for months on end when I was 14, and again for a brief period in college (where I was attending BYU-lite)

      “You think that’s bad? I broke Rule 72 – I left my companion, I’m way worse than you!” never fails to crack me up. See, it’s worse because we were commanded to be perfect! Not achieve perfection, not strive for perfection, we must BE perfect. At all times, and in all things, and in all places. So Heavenly Father expects more from us. (It’s all so preposterous. And ulcer inducing.)

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