The Book of Mormon is a musical comedy with music, lyrics and book by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. First staged in 2011, the play is a satirical examination of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ beliefs and practices that ultimately endorses the positive power of love and service. Parker and Stone were best known for creating the animated comedy South Park; Lopez had co-written the music for the musical Avenue Q.
The show opened on Broadway in March 2011, after nearly seven years of development. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded indifferently; however, they did purchase advertising space in its playbill in later runs. The Book of Mormon garnered overwhelmingly positive critical responses, and set records in ticket sales for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. The show was awarded nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The original Broadway cast recording became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades, reaching number three on the Billboard charts. In 2013, the musical premiered in the West End, followed by two US national tours. A production in Melbourne and the first non-English version, in Stockholm, both opened in January 2017. Productions in Oslo and Copenhagen followed.
The Book of Mormon follows two Latter-Day Saints missionaries as they attempt to preach the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. The earnest young men are challenged by the lack of interest from the locals, who are distracted by more pressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, famine, female genital mutilation, and oppression from the village warlords.
In 2003, after Parker and Stone saw Avenue Q, they met with the musical’s co-writer Lopez and began developing the musical, meeting sporadically for several years. Parker and Stone grew up in Colorado, and references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been commonplace in their previous works. For research, the trio took a trip to Salt Lake City to meet with current and former Mormon missionaries. Beginning in 2008, developmental workshops were staged. The show’s producers, Scott Rudin and Anne Garefino, opted to open the show directly on Broadway.
The Book of Mormon has grossed over $500 million, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time. As of July 27, 2019, it is the 14th longest-running Broadway show surpassing 42nd Street.