Entertainment Stage Should you see The Book of Mormon in Australia?
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Should you see The Book of Mormon in Australia?

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The Book of Mormon, a satirical musical about religion that sold out on Broadway for 180 weeks in a row, is coming to Australia.

The runaway hit will open at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre in early 2017, giving Australian audiences a chance to see the whip smart humour that won the musical nine Tony awards.

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Tickets to the show on Broadway start at around USD$118 which means the Aussie version won’t be cheap, so should you fork out the cash?

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s it about?

The musical follows two young Mormon missionaries, Elder Kevin Prince and Elder Arnold Cunningham, who travel to remote Uganda to share their scriptures.

The village they visit is under the control of a brutal warlord and the locals are far more concerned about issues like poverty and AIDS than what the two missionaries have to say.

The musical explores the concept of faith, with creator Matt Stone describing it as “an atheist’s love letter to religion”.

Who wrote it?

If you’re a South Park fan, the biting satire in the musical will seem familiar.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the two men responsible for creating the long-running adult animation, started working on the production in 2003.

Having both grown up in Colorado surrounded by Mormons, or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the pair were well-versed in the religion.

The pair workshopped the script with producer friend Scott Rudin and created the music with composer Robert Lopez.

The show premiered on Broadway in March 2011.

What do the critics say?

The New York Times’ Ben Brantley said The Book of Mormon restored his faith in musicals.

“This is to all the doubters and deniers out there, the ones who say that heaven on Broadway does not exist, that it’s only some myth our ancestors dreamed up,” Brantley wrote.

“I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air if not on water.”

The Washington Post’s Peter Marks was similarly inspired, writing: “Don’t believe what they say. Money can buy happiness. It’s yours for the price of a ticket to The Book of Mormon.”

The cast of The Book of Mormon take a bow. Photo: Getty
The cast of The Book of Mormon take a bow. Photo: Getty

Who will be in it?

The Broadway original featured Josh Gad as Elder Cunningham and Andrew Rannells as Elder Price.

Gad is fast becoming a big name in Hollywood, with turns in the Steve Jobs biopic Jobs alongside Ashton Kutcher and as the snowman Olaf in the massive hit animation Frozen.

Meanwhile, Rannells is probably best known in Australia for his recent work on HBO hit series Girls playing Elijah Krantz, Hannah’s ex-boyfriend.

For the Aussie version, creators Parker and Stone are currently on the hunt for a cast of the same calibre.

“Everyone says we should look to Tassie for casting so that’s where we’re going first,” the pair said in a statement.

The Australian show will be produced by John Frost, Anne Garefino, Scott Rudin and Important Musicals.

What’s the music like?

With song titles like ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’ and ‘Joseph Smith American Moses’, you can expect sassy, unique songs with plenty of satirical punch.

The musical’s soundtrack album won a Grammy in 2011.

For a sample, here’s a clip of star Andrew Rannells performing the song ‘I Believe’ at the 2011 Tony Awards.

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