eternal life is super fun [aka the book of mormon musical]

{{the hottest ticket in town is the book of mormon musical. after entering the lottery (for tickets to the show) many many times (emily:15 times, ben:10 times) we had sort of given up and gotten to the point where we wanted to save all our money so we could spent it all on a couple seats. sounds crazy right?
but lucky us… my two cousins came to town for 48 hours for the sole purpose of seeing book of mormon. which meant they waited in the “standing room” line – all day. literally. because of their kindness and diligence they picked up tickets for us too— and they were less than $30 each (a complete STEAL). and we only stood for the first half of the show. (even though it’s always sold out, people just don’t show up sometimes. thanks for that!)}}

i knew ahead of time that the musical is crass, offensive and completely amazing. celebs like jon stewart, olivia wilde and zooey deschanel all had said they LOVED it. not to mention the many tonys and the extensive amount of press the show received.

...although it was all those things -crass, offensive and amazing- it was definitely NOT anti-mormon.

and i went in expecting the worst, so i came out of it not so offended.

blah blah blah the reasons i loved the show:
there are so many hilarious things in it that you only understand if you are mormon (and some things you would only understand if you served a mormon mission). and for that, there were multiple times ben and i were the only people laughing in the audience.
the story is genius and clever and very powerful. without giving too much away, the story begins with mormon missionaries at the missionary training center in utah (where many missionaries go before they are sent into “the field” for missionary teaching and work). the two main characters are called to serve in uganda. needless to say this is an adjustment for the white, 19-year-old, bright-eyed and naive young missionaries.

the show addresses serious and real issues like
aids, female circumcision, fatal illnesses, the myth that sex with a virgin will cure your aids, extreme poverty, warlords, et cetera. (i was laughing to myself because earlier that day my coworker and i were complaining about our catered lunch and how it didn’t taste very good. “white person problems,” i said.)
i was impressed and glad the show addressed these things (and i think that’s part of the reason people find it offensive) because i feel like a lot of westerners don’t know about many of those issues or choose to ignore them.
they are real.
and this is a big reason i loved it. because most musicals are about finding your red slippers, making it in business or falling in love with an opera phantom.

i especially loved the theme that as a mormon or a member of any religion or as a human being, you must ask why? why are we asked to live a certain way? dress a certain way? eat a certain way?
without getting too opinionated- take the health code for mormons- (such a hot topic for me). it makes sense to have a health code, it’s good to be healthy but such a code can be interpreted SO differently by everyone.
so for example: our friend was talking about when he was out with work friends who were all drinking and smoking (against the mormon health code) but he pointed out he himself was eating a cheeseburger and drinking a milkshake and some soda- which is probably just as bad for you...
just something to think about.

the show also made me think a lot about how the church and its gospel is great but the church’s people are flawed. and that is the biggest struggle i see. we can’t base our faith on how many friends we do or don’t have at church or how often we do something “right” or “wrong”.
one of the songs sung by one of the missionaries says, “i believe, because mormons just believe.” and in reality, i think that is true. a lot of mormons believe just to believe. but we should do more than to just believe - so ask why? why do i believe? what is it that i believe? is it because my mom believed it? my dad? it has to be for me.

during the show when i felt uncomfortable that i am mormon:
that same song, “i believe” says, “i believe that in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.” this is when african or african american men were given the opportunity to hold the priesthood in the church. i cringed because it’s true.

everything that was said about mormons and the church was true. and a lot of it was painfully true.

we have a friend in our ward (our church congregation) that said, "i have a strong enough testimony to see the book of mormon musical." and it made us laugh- because it's kind of like you have to have a wide enough perspective to laugh at yourself and realize there are peculiarities about any culture- any religion.

and with that i mean, the book of mormon musical is not for everyone.

i could obviously go on forever. but i wanted to share my thoughts – even to this blogger void – because it’s something that is important to me.

the mormon church is very important to me- just like any family member- i love it with all my heart, but it has flaws and issues and it makes me mad sometimes- but most of the time we get along great and i love it. and we are best friends forever.

lottery: $32 (must have photo ID with you).
standing room: $27 – depending on the day of week, show up early (even earlier on weekends), i mean like 9am. you can enter the lottery if you are in the standing room line.
more info here.

photo from ny times review.

see my other (short) broadway reviews here.


sienna said...

glad you guys got to see it. everyone i know who has seen has also loved it and had similar thoughts to what you have expressed. i totally agree that you have to look at the church and the gospel separately sometimes, because God doesn't change, but the church is made up of people and people change and people are imperfect and He is merciful and understanding of that.

Rhianne said...

I'm really glad you posted about this Emily, I really enjoyed your take on it. I probably won't get most of the jokes if it came over here as I didn't really know anything about the Mormon Church until I started blogging but I do agree with you that religion has to be for yourself.

communikate. said...

Yes, I've been interested to hear a Mormon's perspective after seeing the highly talked about show.

I hope they have a long run. I'm dying to see it!

GustoBones said...

You might want to change your "white person problems", to a less racial statement like "first world problems" or "highly developed country" problems because although I know that is probably what you meant, that isn't how it sounded, at least to me.

Please don't be offended, I just know you were expressing some of your thoughts on your blog, but I had some thoughts of my own that I wanted to say.

I hope you guys have a guys have a great Christmas.

Linds said...

oh man! i am so excited that you got to see this. i had a dream that we went and saw it and basically is was one giant missionary lesson. hilarious.

but seriously i enjoyed hearing about it from you. and i also felt a little awesome because of our spotting of elder cunningham.

i love perspective and being able to laugh at yourself.

shayna said...

Really great review. We should discuss all this more in depth. I liked it. Cool, cool, cool.