I haven't seen The Book of Mormon, Broadway's newest Tony winner for Best Musical, but Amazon had the cast recording on sale for $1.99 as an MP3 download. With the way tickets are selling, that might be as close as I'll get for awhile.
Because I had a credit, it ended up only costing me 99 cents! So here's my 99 cents on The Book of Mormon. After listening a few times to the songs and the snippets of dialogue two things struck me - one good and one not so good.
The songs performed by the young Mormons who are about to embark on their stints as missionaries are catchy and upbeat and funny. The lyrics are sweet and heartfelt about their desire to spread their religious faith and make the world a better place.
In fact, they seemed so positive, so earnest and sincere, that I'm surprised the Mormon Church isn't already using them as recruiting tools. Specifically, "Hello," "Two By Two" and "I Believe" are virtual love songs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
But the other thing that struck me about The Book of Mormon was the portrayal of the village in Uganda where Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad, who play the musical's two Odd Couple-like missionaries, are sent.
The Africans, in sharp contrast to the clean-cut, All-American and God-fearing Mormons, are presented as violent, profane, ignorant and easily led. I can't even bring myself to write what the villagers believe will "cure" them of AIDS.
The one appealing Ugandan character, played by Tony winner Nikki James, does get a nice song where she talks about her hopes and dreams, if she can only reach the paradise of "Sal Tlay Ka Siti." (Oh hah, hah, that's a joke on the Ugandans' inability to pronounce Salt Lake City.)
I know that The Book of Mormon was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the South Park guys, and Robert Lopez, the guy from Avenue Q. I realize that the clash of cultures is what this musical is all about. It's a satire - it's supposed to be irreverent and skewer everyone. But based on what I've heard, the skewering just seems a little one-sided.
I'd still like to see The Book of Mormon someday. I realize it's unfair to judge a musical solely on its cast recording. I may be hearing things out of context, not getting the full picture of the story and characters. But for now, that's the only thing I have.