13 June 2011

The Book of Mormon Wins Tony Awards

I was amazed to learn while watching the Tony Awards special on CBS last evening that there was a new musical on Broadway called "The Book of Mormon." I was even more amazed to see the number of awards it garnered during the program, including the big one: Best Musical. “The Book of Mormon” also collected Tony statuettes for original score, book, orchestrations, set design, sound design, lighting, direction and featured actress (Nikki M. James).

Why mention this in a blog about genealogy and family history? It's because the Book of Mormon is a key document in the teachings of The Church of the Latter Day Saints, and the LDS is a major factor in facilitating family history research through its FamilySearch.org arm.

What's the show about? One capsule of the show's storyline says that "The Book of Mormon" centers on two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda. Their tale is told alongside the story of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter-day Saints.

“Growing up in Colorado, a lot of our friends were Mormons and we always thought their book would make a great musical,” Parker and Stone said in a statement before the show's opening. “We loved Avenue Q and are having a blast working with Bobby Lopez. Having a show on Broadway is a dream come true for us.”

Based on the body of work of Parker and Stone, it's safe to say--without seeing the show--that it is satirical in nature.

To find out more about the Broadway show, I did some Google research this morning. I learned that it is a collaboration between the creators of the television series "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and "Avenue Q" composer Robert Lopez, that it launched at the end of February, and that it has has been playing to mixed, but mostly positive, critical reviews.

I like some musical productions, but I don't think I will pay good money if a touring company ever brings "The Book of Mormon" to Cleveland's Playhouse Square. That reaction is based on the production number from the musical that was included in the three-hour awards program. I simply didn't see--or hear--what leads New York audiences to shell out really big bucks (as much as $200 per seat) to see this show.

As for the LDS Church, the official position statement issued in February was short and sweet: "The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people's lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ."

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