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
Growing up, I was a big fan of all
the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals,
and I'd watch them on VHS, and watch everyone be
big and happy and optimistic, and I'm like,
Wow! People aren't like this anymore!
Except for Mormons!
(mid-tempo rock music)
I'm Adam Green, Vogue's Theater Critic.
And I'm talking today with Trey Parker and Matt Stone,
the famously bad boy creators of South Park,
whose new musical The Book of Mormon just opened
across the street at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.
As you can imagine, this isn't a show
for your church-going grandma who thinks dad-burn-it
is a terrible curse. It's seriously filthy,
and deeply blasphemous. But it's also a sweet,
really kind of old-fashioned musical,
and for my money, the funniest one ever.
Those El Diaz commercials,
remember they used to have those?
Yeah. It's so hard to live with a lie.
You remember that? Yeah!
It was like they ran it on national TV, like in the 80's,
right? I feel so dark inside,
feel like I wanna cry. Dude, Trey really remembers.
I still remember. They were little musical numbers.
And at the end it said, Brought To You By
The Church of Latter-Day ... The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints. of Latter-Day Saints.
It would say that.
There's just something about the aesthetic
that the church puts forward that makes you think
that there's just always about to break out in song.
It's totally different sitting in the back of the house
with a thousand people either laughing or not laughing
at something, which happens too, from time to time.
There is something uniquely nerve-wracking about being
in the same room with the live performers doing the material
as compared to like Wednesday night on South Park.
But really, South Park's playing to two or three
million people, but it's easier to just forget about it,
or not stress out about it.
It's a lot more terrifying and gratifying.
[Adam] Have you heard from any Mormons
who have actually seen the show?
There seem to be Mormons almost every night,
and we can kinda hear the little pockets
of Mormons in the crowd, because there's certain things
in the show that you would have to either be
a very well-studied non-Mormon, or an ex-Mormon,
or something, because there's certain things in the show
that get like this little applause from like,
three or four people, and you're like, Okay,
there's the Mormons.
When we started writing this, we started with the songs.
As you're sitting there and you're talking
about the whole idea, you're sitting there going,
Okay, well the two missionaries, they could do this,
and then it's like, Oh! Remember that song from Music Man,
'We Got Trouble'? It could be like that kind of thing,
because he's trying to pitch what the Mormon religion is.
So we always had a reference, and Hakuna Mutata's probably
the most recent thing we used, everything else
was really more classic musical.
We were also very careful to not just parody that song.
Because we wanted to create our own songs,
and make them very original.
[Adam] Would you sing a verse of I Believe?
[Adam] You wouldn't? Okay.
It's always such a good idea,
and then you're in the middle of a room right here,
singing I Believe and you're like,
I don't know how I feel.
Yeah. And then if other people on the cast ever see me
on the TV singing I Believe, they'll be like,
What a asshole. I just can't do it.
(easygoing jazz music)