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Book of Mormon featured in the New York Post

Sure to offend and succeed

‘Book of Mormon’ slays ‘em in tryout

Last Updated: 4:27 AM, September 3, 2010

Posted: 12:53 AM, September 3, 2010

Michael Riedel

ON BROADWAY

Hilarious, audacious — and guaranteed to offend just about everybody.

That’s how theater insiders are describing “The Book of Mormon,” the much-anticipated new Broadway musical from “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Backers’ auditions for the show, which will open in March at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, were held this past week, and I know of several insiders who are still sore from laughing so hard.

One of them is Stephen Sondheim, who was “doubled over” a few times during the reading, says a source. Sondheim has said that he thinks the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” is the best musical of the past 15 years.

Mike Nichols was roaring, too, especially at what one person calls a “brilliantly funny rip-off” of the “Circle of Life” number from “The Lion King.”

One of the lead producers is Anne Garefino, the Comedy Central executive in charge of “South Park.”

The show, which Parker and Stone are writing with “Avenue Q” creator Bobby Lopez, follows two young Mormon missionaries who are shipped off to a dangerous part of Uganda to spread the good word.

Their adventures are told alongside the story of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church.

The production is being co-directed by Parker and Casey Nicholaw, who’s also choreographing. Newcomers Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad are playing the young Mormons.

Just about every religious, ethnic and identity group comes in for some merry skewering.

“Mormons, Africans, gays – I think the only group they leave alone is the Catholics,” says a source, adding with a laugh: “At least we won’t have to worry about the Catholic League.”

And what about the Mormons? Will people in black suits with “Elder So-and-So” badges on their lapels picket the O’Neill?

“I expect there’ll be some of that,” says a source. “But the truth is the show has heart. It makes fun of organized religion, but the two Mormons are real people, not caricatures.”

As you would expect from the guys who wrote “Blame Canada,” the songs are tuneful and very funny.

Unfortunately, I can’t print any titles because most of them contain words that are not permitted in a family newspaper.

“Offhand, I can’t think of any song they can do at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” says a source. “Or on ‘Good Morning America.’”

It’ll be interesting to see how CBS handles “The Book of Mormon” on the Tonys. The buzz is such that, at this point, the show has to be considered a Tony Award contender. If it’s nominated for Best Musical, it’ll be fun to see how close to the edge “The Book of Mormon” will go on the telecast.

Here’s hoping it goes right over, making the far-too-family-friendly Tonys watchable for the first time in years.

excerpted from the New York Post on September 3, 2010
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