When the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” hit theaters, director and co-composer Trey Parker received a rare honor: a letter from Stephen Sondheim stating that Parker had written the best musical he’d seen in years.
Perhaps that note was a harbinger of things to come. On the advice of a friend, Parker and “South Park” co-conspirator Matt Stone attended the raunchy puppet musical “Avenue Q” on Broadway, and were surprised to find themselves thanked in the liner notes. This launched Parker, Stone and “Avenue Q” co-creator Robert Lopez on a nearly seven-year endeavor to create a musical about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
To say “The Book of Mormon” has been successful is a gross understatement. New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley called it “the best musical of this century.” The original Broadway recording became the highest-charting cast album in four decades, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard charts.
Tickets were so difficult to come by that counterfeits became a problem. Fellow Comedy Central star Jon Stewart once joked that even he couldn’t get tickets.
The unafraid-to-offend musical follows two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to share the gospel in Uganda and immediately fall prey to despotic warlord General Butt-Fucking Naked. With famine, disease, AIDS and female genital mutilation playing a part in the daily lives of local villagers, the missionaries are confronted with questions of faith.
As you might expect from the “South Park” guys, the musical is a foul-mouthed and side-splittingly funny affair. But surprisingly, the show is also a throwback to the old-fashioned Broadway musical, with a heart to match. On its second U.S. national tour, “The Book of Mormon” comes to the Altria Theater from Nov. 4-9. You can bet there won’t be an empty seat.
For information on the show call 592-3401 or visit altriatheater.com.