review book of mormon musical

'The Book of Mormon' review

Read our five-star review of The Book of Mormon on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

Tulis McCall

An old friend of mine turned Mormon on me a few years ago to the extent that I no longer know who this woman is. I felt like I was watching a perfectly intelligent person be kidnapped by people who believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob, an angel called Moroni delivered golden tablets to Joseph Smith in upstate New York that are the secret basis for this religion, and oh yeah — there is the hair shirt thing. So it was with some trepidation that I saw this show. Even though everyone has been raving about it, I was still cautious.

The good news is that this production bowls you over. You don't have a chance to not like it because it, like the Mormons it depicts, is positive that something good will happen if you just hang around for awhile. And the message is that, in the words of Dr. Seuss, "We are all a little weird, and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

Two little Mormon missionaries - are they all white men? - are paired up together and sent to Uganda. Elder Price (Andrew Rannells), who could be the Ken to anyone's Barbie, was hoping for Orlando. Elder Cunningham (Josh Gad) is a sad sack grateful to be chosen for anything at all. Disappointment and enthusiasm are thus bound together and shipped east, way east.

Upon their arrival they meet villagers who are suffering from AIDS, drought, disease, and dictators. The villagers teach the two missionaries their favorite uplifting song, "Hasa Diga Eebowai." As life batters them in the head over and over again, it is this song that keeps them going. Price and Cunningham join in with that old-fashioned Mormon enthusiasm, only to find out that this song means, "F--k you, God." Welcome to the world, boys.

At missionary HQ they meet a randy bunch of also white boys led by Elder McKinley (Rory O'Malley) who have nothing to show for their time in Uganda - no Baptisms, no nothin'. But they do have one thing: their own musical theme song to aid them in times of question and doubt. "Turn It Off" - as in, turn off anything that means questioning the Mormon path: thoughts of homosexuality, memories of abuse, guilt of any kind. Welcome to another world, boys.

What follows is a love story where Price and Cunningham have to find their own paths without the other's help. Price tries to flee his fate while Cunningham deals fast and loose with his proselytizing. On the other side of the story, the villagers are caught between swallowing the Book of Mormon (the Third Testament of the Bible) as told by Cunningham, and making it through another day without being killed or having a clitoridectomy.

As a matter of fact, the clitoris is a focal point of this story and is mentioned, oh, about 30 times as a point of focus in Uganda. Here girls are raped and then circumcised (read: genital mutilation) to keep them from getting any ideas or pleasure for the rest of their lives. This subject is bandied about like a beach ball throughout the show along with child rape, frog rape, AIDS, maggot infestation, Spooky Mormon Hell, and Jesus. It is mentioned just enough to get people's attention, but I hope not so much that it will be dismissed as incidental or worse, a myth.

In the end everyone here is gullible and worthy of a dope-slap. From the Mormons to General Butt F--king Naked (Brian Tyree Henry) to the young woman Nabulungi (Nikki M. James), whose name Cunningham never gets right in a running joke that somehow works every time. The Mormons will figure out an answer to any argument. The General would rather kill than argue and wants everything and everyone to belong — to him. Nabulungi — kind of like the Little Mermaid — wants to get out of Dodge and go to Salt Lake City ("Sal Tlay Ka Siti"). Like the rest of us, the gal just wants to belong, period.

Ain't no one or nothing safe in The Book of Mormon , least of all the audience. This show makes you realize that when you are pointing one finger to make fun of someone, there are three fingers pointed back at you. And this news is delivered with a smile — a real one. Parker, Lopez, and Stone have a laser beam precision with the aim of a 10-year-old boy just discovering he can write his name in the snow when he pees. You don't know whether to laugh at the boy's delight or duck and cover. No matter. Either way, you're going to get some on you.

(Photo by Joan Marcus)

"A newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived." Ben Brantley for New York Times

"The show is blissfully original, irreverent, outspoken and hilarious. And all that's tucked inside good -- no, great -- old-fashioned musical." Joe Dziemianowicz for New York Daily News

"It's a fiendishly well-crafted, hilariously smart — or maybe smartly hilarious — song-and-dance extravaganza. The show's a hoot. The show's a hit." Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post

"Like several shows this season, "Book of Mormon" is too long and comes close to wearing out its welcome before redeeming itself with a strong second act. And like most 12-year-old-boys, it isn't nearly as nasty as it would have us believe. Not that there's anything wrong with that." Jeremy Gerald for Bloomberg

"Manages to combine outrageous parody, solid storytelling, and sympathetic yet goofy characters." David Sheward for Back Stage

"One of the most purely enjoyable musicals in years." Robert Feldberg for The Record

"Brilliantly original, hysterically funny and tunefully irresistible." Roma Torre for NY1

"In a season of tuners mostly derived from old movies, stories and songs, it's a gold-plated Broadway miracle to encounter something so new and audaciously fresh in every respect of the word." Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey

"The defining quality of this hugely entertaining show is its sweetness... One of the freshest original musicals in recent memory. It has tuneful songs, clever lyrics, winning characters, explosive laughs and disarmingly intimate moments." David Rooney for Hollywood Reporter

"Every song enhances the hilarity, expert staging heightens every gag, and the cast of fresh faces is blissfully good... Approaches musical-comedy Rapture" Steven Suskin for Variety

External links to full reviews from popular press...

New York Times - New York Daily News - New York Post - Bloomberg - Back Stage - The Record - Newsroom Jersey - Hollywood Reporter - Variety

Originally published on Jan 25, 2022 19:45

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Book of Mormon review

The Book of Mormon – review

T here is an extended sequence showing Hitler enjoying oral sex with the devil, a blown up x-ray of a rectal blockage caused by a religious text, and its central song involves characters literally sticking up their middle fingers to God: it is safe to say that this Broadway musical is not Les Miserables.

Predictably, it is the work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the permanently sniggering but deceptively brilliant duo behind South Park .

The musical – The Book of Mormon – is their Broadway debut. Less predictably, it has become the most critically acclaimed new musical for years.

Jon Stewart, host of the Daily Show, described it as "so good it makes me angry", and Ben Brantley, the New York Times's notoriously difficult-to-please theatre critic, apparently underwent a religious conversion during the show, using the kind of evangelical language in his review that the show mocks, beginning with "heaven" and ending with "paradise", with an "ecstatic" along the way.

Only heavy prayer will get you tickets – that or celebrity status: the night I went Sandra Bullock was sitting in front of me, an experience only slightly more surreal than hearing a whole auditorium singing along to a chorus that goes: "Fuck you, God, in the ass, mouth and cunt." Sandra's shoulders shook delightedly.

This terrific musical follows two Mormons, the narcissistic Elder Price (Andrew Rannells) and the socially awkward Elder Cunningham (the wonderful Josh Gad), who are sent to Uganda to convert the natives.

It's a classic buddy movie set-up combined with the equally classic tale of Americans bossing around other countries, from South Pacific to The Three Amigos. But the joke here is what happens when religious and cinematic idealisation meets reality: "Africa is nothing like The Lion King! I think that movie took a lot of artistic licence!" wails one Mormon upon arrival.

It's hard to convince people of the relevance of a religion when even its devotees occasionally struggle to explain why a warlord is threatening the village's women with clitoridectomies.

The music, written by Parker, Stone and Avenue Q's Robert Lopez, is catchy, catty and scatological, as was Parker and Stone's brilliant 2004 film, Team America: World Police.

Some critics have marvelled at the show's "surprising sweetness" but the pair's longtime fans will raise no eyebrows. Although fearlessly offensive, the two are always deeply moral, even occasionally sentimental, and this show is no exception. The have-it-both-ways conclusion tells us religious prophets were probably all lonely fantasists with self-esteem problems, but if it makes people happy, so what? Parker and Stone reserve their real bile for a far more offensive target: The Lion King.

As if poor Julie Taymor hasn't suffered enough this year with the humiliating debacle of her deservedly vilified Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, her more successful Broadway musical is held up for constant ridicule here. The animals in The Lion King shrugged away their worries with Hakuna Matata but the Ugandans here find that their problems ("We haven't had rain for several days / 80% of us have Aids") need more so they opt for a cheerful Hasa Diga Eebowai or Fuck you, God.

Even Taymor's Spider-Man collaborator, Bono , gets an always deserved kicking: "I am Africa! / Just like Bono, I am Africa / Africans are Africans but I am Africa!" sings a distinctly unAfrican Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is funny, it's fun, the sets and music are excellent and, most of all, it's smart as hell. Spider-Man, weep and learn.

  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
  • Sandra Bullock

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The Book of Mormon Critics’ Reviews

The nine-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical.

About The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon follows two young missionaries who are sent to Uganda to try to convert citizens to the Mormon religion. One missionary, Elder Price, is an enthusiastic go-getter with a strong dedication to his faith, while his partner, Elder Cunningham, is a socially awkward but well meaning nerd whose tendency to embroider the truth soon lands him in trouble. Upon their arrival in Africa, Elders Price and Cunningham learn that in a society plagued by AIDS, poverty and violence, a successful mission may not be as easy as they expected.

review book of mormon musical

"A spectacular, rather perfect Broadway musical not only grounded in a serious love and understanding of the traditions that make a Broadway musical great but also filled with love for the very flawed, mortal characters who populate this romp." Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

review book of mormon musical

"Parker and Stone have created one of the freshest original musicals in recent memory. It has tuneful songs, clever lyrics, winning characters, explosive laughs and disarmingly intimate moments. " The Hollywood Reporter David Rooney
"While The Book of Mormon packs plenty of blissful profanity, sacrilege and politically incorrect mischief, the defining quality of this hugely entertaining show is its sweetness." The Hollywood Reporter David Rooney

review book of mormon musical

"The show is blissfully original, irreverent, outspoken and hilarious. And all that's tucked inside good -- no, great -- old-fashioned musical." New York Daily News Joe Dziemianowicz

review book of mormon musical

"These numbers are witty, ridiculous, impeccably executed and genuinely stirring." The New York Times Ben Brantley
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The Book of Mormon

Guide to The Book of Mormon on Broadway

Read our guide to when, where and how to see the musical comedy smash The Book of Mormon on Broadway

Adam Feldman

In The Book of Mormon , Broadway gets treated to one of its funniest and most irreverent Broadway musicals of all time. We knew that the show's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone ( South Park ) and Robert Lopez ( Avenue Q ), could be counted on to bring the comedy. But nothing could prepare critics or audiences for the blasphemous hilarity and zestful vulgarity of The Book of Mormon. Two squeaky-clean missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are sent from Utah to proselytize in Uganda; set down in a beleaguered village terrorized by a local warlord and suffering from disease and other horrors, our Mormon boys find their work cut out for them. Parker, Stone and Lopez gleefully lampoon Mormonism as well as African stereotypes—and they do so in the framework of a traditional book musical that references a host of canonical musicals, from The Lion King to The King and I. Smart, vicious but surprisingly sweet at its center, The Book of Mormon is New York theater lovers’ heaven and one of the best Broadway shows .

What is The Book of Mormon ?

The Book of Mormon is a musical comedy by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. It is directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw. It began previews on February 24, 2011, and opened on March 24, 2011. It is the winner of nine 2011 Tony Awards , including Best Musical.

Where is The Book of Mormon playing?

The Book of Mormon plays at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theatre , located at 230 West 49th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.

When does The Book of Mormon play?

The Book of Mormon plays eight times a week, on the following schedule: Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm; and Sundays at 2pm and 7pm.

How do I get tickets to The Book of Mormon on Broadway?

Tickets to The Book of Mormon are sold online . They can also be purchased by phone (877-250-2929) or in person at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre box office. Tickets cost $89–$172, and premium tickets cost $199–$299. A limited number of $32 tickets are sold via lottery; entries are accepted at the box office two and a half hours before each performances, and the drawing takes place two hours before curtain time. Standing-toom tickets cost $27 and are sold at the box office directly following the lottery drawing. If you're looking to buy last-minute Broadway tickets and don't want to risk losing the lottery, you can try your luck on the secondary or resale market.

How long is The Book of Mormon ?

The running time of The Book of Mormon is 2 hours and 35 minutes, with one intermission.

Who is in The Book of Mormon on Broadway?

The cast of The Book of Mormon currently includes Nic Rouleau (Elder Price), Christopher John O'Neill (Elder Cunningham), Nikki Renée Daniels (Nabulungi), Grey Henson (Elder McKinley) and Daniel Breaker (Mafala Hatimbi).

Original five-star The Book of Mormon review

If theater is your religion and the Broadway musical your sect, you've been woefully faith-challenged of late. Venturesome, boundary-pushing works such as Spring Awakening, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Next to Normal closed too soon. American Idiot was shamefully ignored at the Tonys and will be gone in three weeks. Meanwhile, that airborne infection Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark dominates headlines and rakes in millions, without even opening. Celebrities and corporate brands sell poor material, innovation gets shown the door, and crap floats to the top. It's enough to turn you heretic, to sing along with The Book of Mormon 's Ugandan villagers: "Fuck you God in the ass, mouth and cunt-a, fuck you in the eye." Read the full review by David Cote

The Book of Mormon original cast & crew

• Josh Gad as Elder Cunningham • Andrew Rannells as Elder Price • Nikki M. James as Nabulungi • Rory O'Malley as Elder McKinley, Moroni • Michael Potts as Mafala Hatimbi • Lewis Cleale as Price's Dad, Mission President • Kevin Duda as Cunningham's Dad, Ensemble • Brian Tyree Henry as General, Ensemble • Michael James Scott as Doctor, Ensemble • Rema Webb as Mrs. Brown, Ensemble • Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker - Directors • Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone - Book, Music, and Lyrics • Casey Nicholaw - Choreographer • Scott Pask - Scenic Design • Ann Roth - Costume Design • Brian MacDevitt - Lighting Design • Brian Ronan - Sound Design • Anne Garefino, Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Scott M. Delman, Jean Doumanian, Sonia Friedman Productions, Roy Furman, Important Musicals, Stephanie P. McClelland, Kevin Morris, Jon B. Platt, Stuart Thompson - Producers

The Book of Mormon awards

2011 Tony Awards • Best Musical • Best Book of a Musical - Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone • Best Original Score - Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone • Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical - Nikki M. James • Best Direction of a Musical - Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker • Best Orchestrations - Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus • Best Scenic Design - Scott Pask • Best Lighting Design - Brian MacDevitt • Best Sound Design - Brian Ronan 2011 New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards • Best Musical 2011 Drama Desk Awards • Outstanding Musical • Outstanding Lyrics - Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone • Outstanding Music - Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone • Outstanding Director of a Musical - Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker • Outstanding Orchestrations - Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus 2012 Grammy Awards • Best Musical Theater Album - Original Broadway Cast

Listen to The Book of Mormon 's original Broadway cast album on Spotify

Buy The Book of Mormon 's original Broadway cast album on Amazon

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COMMENTS

  1. 'The Book of Mormon' review

    Home. Reviews. Broadway. 'The Book of Mormon' review. Read our five-star review of The Book of Mormon on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. Tulis McCall September 22, 2017, 00:00. An old friend of mine turned Mormon on me a few years ago to the extent that I no longer know who this woman is.

  2. The Book of Mormon

    The Book of Mormon. 3,817 reviews. #42 of 480 Theater & Concerts in New York City. Theater & Performances. Write a review. What people are saying. “ Fabulous. You HAVE to watch this! Feb 2023. Great cast, great music, great show and a tongue-in-cheek look at how the writers of South Park view the Mormon relig... By Christina O. “ Good show!

  3. The Book of Mormon

    The Book of Mormon is funny, it's fun, the sets and music are excellent and, most of all, it's smart as hell. Spider-Man, weep and learn. Explore more on these topics. Broadway. Theatre. New...

  4. The Book of Mormon

    David Rooney. "The show is blissfully original, irreverent, outspoken and hilarious. And all that's tucked inside good -- no, great -- old-fashioned musical." New York Daily News. Joe...

  5. Book of Mormon Broadway tickets, reviews and information

    Adam Feldman. Monday March 7 2016. In The Book of Mormon, Broadway gets treated to one of its funniest and most irreverent Broadway musicals of all time. We knew that the show's creators, Trey...