A Night in the City with Mormons by Klara Kurti ('17)

 

            On March 14th, the ACES group took a trip to the wild streets of New York City to watch The Book of Mormon musical on Broadway. The musical is a religious satire about the history of the Mormon religion. Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone, also known for their famous animated comedy, South Park, were the masterminds behind this creation. The musical starts with two Mormon missionaries who are chosen to go to Uganda in order to convert the civilians of the village to Mormonism. When they arrive, they realize that the people of Uganda do not believe in religion and are battling with war, famine, poverty, and AIDS. After numerous failed attempts to convert the people, the charismatic Elder Cunningham finally succeeds.

            The Book of Mormon has been on Broadway since March 2011 and has received many awards in the past three years. Although many critics have had a lot of negative feedback for the satire, the majority of viewers give it 4.5/5 stars. Could it be the vulgar songs and language that won over the audience, or Nic Rouleau and Ben Platt's acting? For me, it was definitely a little bit of both! 

Group of students who went to watch the musical. 

            Although the show did not begin until 7:30 pm, my excitement kicked in during common hour. Instead of going home after school, I lingered around the ACES Center, counting down the minutes until 4:30 pm, when we grabbed some last minute snacks and departed for the city. On the train, I bonded with Professor Meehan and Ishika about school, horoscopes, marriage, and even technology. As casual as the conversation may seem, it was highly intellectual. Professor Meehan's advice to “travel the world first, get to know yourself first, then settle down,” has really stuck to me since that day. Though the train ride was about an hour long, I was so engrossed in conversation, it felt as if it took only minutes to get to the city.

            After wandering around for a few minutes in a nearby Starbucks, we entered into the Eugene O'Neill Theatre around 6:30 pm. By the time we got inside and found our seats, I'm almost positive I had frostbite and was worried about who I would be sitting next to since all the students were scattered. All I had I heard about The Book of Mormon at this point was that it was “hilarious” but “highly inappropriate in language and action.” I was afraid an old man would be sitting next to me, disgusted by everything he heard, but to my delight, I had Inna to my left side and Professor Larson on the left! Talk about your ten most awkward moments in your college career.

            Throughout the show, I couldn't stop laughing for more than a few minutes. As my eyes skimmed the room, I noticed professional men in suits and work attire, laughing harder than I was. Were they Mormons? I couldn't help but wonder for some reason. I also couldn't stop wondering about a saying I had heard in the play. Though I don't remember every word perfectly, the main idea was that some people take the readings in religious books too seriously, and it's meant to be metaphoric rather than concrete. It really made me think about our religious beliefs today and how certain fanatics take religious texts too literally. In reality, some things are only meant to serve as symbols.

            Overall, my whole experience of the play was very positive. I'm pretty sure Professor Larson also loved the play because he stood up to clap with the rest of the audience when the show ended. For me, going to a Broadway show really opened up my creative side and inspired me to go to more shows, to visit museums, and write poetry. As for The Book of Mormon musical, I highly recommend it to anybody over the age of seventeen. If you have a good sense of humor and money to spend, the first thing you should do is catch this musical on Broadway! Just make sure you take two friends with you, so you don't sit next to a businessman, wearing a suit. 


From left to right: Emmanuel, Ben Platt, Flora.

"Emmanuel and I were very excited to see the lead actor Elder Cunningham (Ben Platt) after the show. He was awesome during the musical and he performed his role excellently. He also told me he performed eight times a week! This of course shows dedication, diligence, and most of all hard work. It was a fantastic show indeed."

- Flora Uwadiegwu (’14)