Stone and Parker talk the ‘Book of Mormon’

The creators of South Park have gone Broadway. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have written their first Broadway musical, “The Book of Mormon,” which is based on an episode of South Park.

The motive behind the play remains the same as the TV show: to present controversial comedy to its audience.

Parker and Stone are no strangers to controversy. In 2010, “South Park” satirized the Muslim prophet Muhammad, which led to intense criticism from Revolution Muslim, an Islamic group based in New York City.

The directors have also brought their lewd comedy to the big-screen, starring in the 1998 film, “Baseketball.” They also wrote, voiced and directed the 2004 satirical film “Team America: World Police.”

Their claim-to-fame, “South Park,” also had its own critically acclaimed film, “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut.”

Despite incorporating comedic songs into their other works, Broadway has eluded the creative duo until now. Their first musical has initially been well received; people are pleased with the comedic vulgarity the “South Park” kings have brought to Broadway life.

The musical tells the story of two missionaries from Salt Lake City who go to Uganda during a war.

Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells play the missionaries who get more than they bargained for, and their journey teaches them a lot about themselves as they become heroes who face a “one-eyed,” warlord and AIDS-infected villagers.

Originally, Stone and Parker had no idea when they would finish “The Book of Mormon.” The play was a seven-year process of writing, altering and brainstorming, where Parker and Stone often wrote whatever came to mind, they said.

In a phone conference on March 21, both agreed that their play is thematically similar to “South Park.” Parker and Stone said they made the play just to try something new and are pleasantly surprised with the popularity and the mix of people who have shown interest—especially the Broadway crowd.

When asked about the moral position of each character and the overall musical, Stone said, “God speaks through us and we speak through the characters.”

Parker and Stone emphasized how they wanted their story to be “true to itself.” The duo said that “The Book of Mormon” will explore new territories of satire without fear of public backlash. It is a “traditional musical done today,” just with a “South Park” touch, Parker said.

The directors said that making “South Park” episodes is less time-consuming and that the play was more of a seven-year research and creativity project where both writers went to Salt Lake City to investigate.

During their research, Parker and Stone went to restaurants and interviewed waiters. Most of them had gone on missions and knew a lot about the Mormon religion. With their travels and interviews out of the way, “The Book of Mormon,” was completed.

Teachings and history of the Mormon Church are embedded in the script along, with special appearances by Jesus and the Mormon Church founders.

The play not only explores all contradictions of the Mormon religion but brings artistic, musical, comical, realistic and ridiculous elements for the purpose of one thing: laughter.

“The Book of Mormon” opens on March 24 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater.

Natalie Negrotti can be reached at natalie.negrotti@student.shu.edu.

Pirate Life Editor Kevin Stevens contributed to this report.

Author: Staff Writer

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