You could certainly argue that “The Book of Mormon,” a musical that satirizes religious dogma, is among the unlikeliest Broadway hits.
But a hit it is, and it’s coming to your town.
The show’s first national tour opens Tuesday at the Music Hall and runs through March 8. That’s a run of almost two weeks, which is longer than the typical Broadway show that plays Kansas City. Take that as a sign of the show’s popularity.
“The Book of Mormon” claimed a slew of 2011 Tony Awards, including best musical, best book and best score, and is still running on Broadway.
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The show pokes fun at missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while at the same time depicting them in a sympathetic light. The story focuses on two young missionaries — Elder Price and Elder Cunningham — who are sent to Uganda to win converts. The inevitable culture clash is the comic thread running through the show.
Let the fact that Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of “South Park,” were two of three writers on “The Book of Mormon” be your guide to the brand of humor you’ll encounter.
But the show also exhibits affection for Mormon idealism.
“There’s a lot of Mormons that I think feel validated by this in a way because they love their church and they love their family, but they’ve always kind of felt inside that ‘Maybe this is all a bunch of (expletive), but I still love it,’” Parker said in a 2013 interview with the Boston Globe. “And I think there’s a lot of Mormons who come to the show and say, ‘That’s exactly how I feel,’ and come out of it actually feeling better about being Mormon. And that’s why a lot of Mormons see this as their ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’”
It might be good to keep in mind the Mormon Church’s deep roots in western Missouri, especially Jackson and Clay counties. It was in this region that many of the key events in church history took place — including the persecution of Mormons by locals and the imprisonment of church founder Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail. The world headquarters of the Community of Christ — formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which considers the Book of Mormon to be one of several sacred scriptures — is based in Independence.
Of note: Dana Joel Nicholson, an actor formerly based in Kansas City, is a standby for the role of Elder Cunningham in this company. That means there’s a chance you might see him on any given night. Nicholson had established himself as gifted comic actor before he hit the road.