Why Broadway's New Hit Book of Mormon and South Park Have More in Common Than You Think

Adam Green recently got a chance to sit down and talk with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose new show, The Book of Mormon may just be the savior of the American musical.

Released on 1/16/2012

Credits

Starring: Trey Parker

Transcript

00:03
Growing up, I was a big fan of all
00:04
the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals,
00:05
and I'd watch them on VHS, and watch everyone be
00:07
big and happy and optimistic, and I'm like,
00:09
Wow! People aren't like this anymore!
00:10
Except for Mormons!
00:12
(laughter)
00:13
(mid-tempo rock music)
00:21
I'm Adam Green, Vogue's Theater Critic.
00:23
And I'm talking today with Trey Parker and Matt Stone,
00:26
the famously bad boy creators of South Park,
00:28
whose new musical The Book of Mormon just opened
00:30
across the street at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.
00:33
As you can imagine, this isn't a show
00:34
for your church-going grandma who thinks dad-burn-it
00:37
is a terrible curse. It's seriously filthy,
00:40
and deeply blasphemous. But it's also a sweet,
00:43
really kind of old-fashioned musical,
00:46
and for my money, the funniest one ever.
00:49
Those El Diaz commercials,
00:50
remember they used to have those?
00:51
Yeah. It's so hard to live with a lie.
00:53
You remember that? Yeah!
00:54
It was like they ran it on national TV, like in the 80's,
00:56
right? I feel so dark inside,
00:57
feel like I wanna cry. Dude, Trey really remembers.
00:58
I still remember. They were little musical numbers.
01:00
And at the end it said, Brought To You By
01:02
The Church of Latter-Day ... The Church of Jesus Christ
01:04
of Latter-Day Saints. of Latter-Day Saints.
01:05
It would say that.
01:06
There's just something about the aesthetic
01:08
that the church puts forward that makes you think
01:10
that there's just always about to break out in song.
01:14
It's totally different sitting in the back of the house
01:16
with a thousand people either laughing or not laughing
01:19
at something, which happens too, from time to time.
01:21
There is something uniquely nerve-wracking about being
01:24
in the same room with the live performers doing the material
01:28
as compared to like Wednesday night on South Park.
01:30
But really, South Park's playing to two or three
01:32
million people, but it's easier to just forget about it,
01:35
or not stress out about it.
01:37
It's a lot more terrifying and gratifying.
01:39
[Adam] Have you heard from any Mormons
01:41
who have actually seen the show?
01:42
There seem to be Mormons almost every night,
01:44
and we can kinda hear the little pockets
01:46
of Mormons in the crowd, because there's certain things
01:48
in the show that you would have to either be
01:50
a very well-studied non-Mormon, or an ex-Mormon,
01:54
or something, because there's certain things in the show
01:56
that get like this little applause from like,
01:58
three or four people, and you're like, Okay,
01:59
there's the Mormons.
02:02
When we started writing this, we started with the songs.
02:05
As you're sitting there and you're talking
02:06
about the whole idea, you're sitting there going,
02:08
Okay, well the two missionaries, they could do this,
02:09
and then it's like, Oh! Remember that song from Music Man,
02:12
'We Got Trouble'? It could be like that kind of thing,
02:14
because he's trying to pitch what the Mormon religion is.
02:16
So we always had a reference, and Hakuna Mutata's probably
02:19
the most recent thing we used, everything else
02:21
was really more classic musical.
02:24
We were also very careful to not just parody that song.
02:26
Because we wanted to create our own songs,
02:28
and make them very original.
02:31
[Adam] Would you sing a verse of I Believe?
02:35
No.
02:36
[Adam] You wouldn't? Okay.
02:37
It's always such a good idea,
02:38
and then you're in the middle of a room right here,
02:40
singing I Believe and you're like,
02:41
I don't know how I feel.
02:42
Yeah. And then if other people on the cast ever see me
02:44
on the TV singing I Believe, they'll be like,
02:45
What a asshole. I just can't do it.
02:50
(easygoing jazz music)
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