The creators of The Book of Mormon – the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that centers on two young Mormon missionaries who are sent off to spread the word in Uganda, hoping to convert more than a few Africans, and which features a significant black cast – say they plan to adapt the stage work for the big screen, as a feature film.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the South Parks guys) are the show’s creators by the way.
Winner of 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical, The Book of Mormon is a work of satire – or more specifically satire targeted at religion; and while I haven’t seen the work firsthand, given the pair behind its creation and their past on screen work, I’d expect some irreverence likely to make everyone uncomfortable.
Here’s a full synopsis:
The Book of Mormon follows two young missionaries who are sent to Uganda to try to convert citizens to the Mormon religion. One missionary, Elder Price, is an enthusiastic go-getter with a strong dedication to his faith, while his partner, Elder Cunningham, is a socially awkward but well meaning nerd whose tendency to embroider the truth soon lands him in trouble. Upon their arrival in Africa, Elders Price and Cunningham learn that in a society plagued by AIDS, poverty and violence, a successful mission may not be as easy as they expected.
Like I said, while not the 2 main leads, there are significant starring (and several ensemble) roles in this for black actors and actresses.
But let me say again that it’s a satire, and it will likely offend some. For example, in the village the 2 missionaries are sent to, there’s a murderous despot named General Butt-Fucking Naked. Some of you will realize that it’s a comical appropriation of Joshua Milton Blahyi’s nom de guerre General Butt Naked – once a brutal Liberian warlord who mercilessly slaughtered men, women, and children during that country’s civil war, made his child soldiers battle in the nude, because he believed their bare skin was impenetrable. He later repented and reinvented himself as an evangelist and sought forgiveness from the survivors of his victims. There was a documentary made about him that we featured on the site last year.
Also, as it’s a musical, there are musical numbers like one in the second act titled Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.
In addition, there’s lots of profanity (a sample lyric from one of the musical numbers is: “F**k You, God”); sexual acts are simulated on stage; and since it takes place in Uganda, expect the show to comically exploit topics that are typical international news fodder where Africans are concerned – from poverty to genital mutilation, war violence, AIDS and more.
So, like I said, expect irreverence and politically incorrectness. And I’d guess no one and nothing is off-limits. Yes, it’s that type of party. Again, it’s from the guys who created South Park and Team America: World Police! If those appealed to you, then this likely will too. If they offended you, then you probably should stay away from this one.
But I haven’t seen it, so I can’t really give an opinion on the original work, which reportedly took 7 years to put together. It’s not exactly high on my list of things to see either. Not because I’m squeamish. I just never really got into South Park nor Team America: World Police the way others did. And I’m more likely to see a play than a musical.
There’s no ETA on when we can expect this film adaptation to happen. Right now it’s really all just talk. There’s certainly interest, and with a commercially successful, award-winning Broadway run, that’s just about all a Hollywood studio needs to give a movie adaptation the greenlight.