"The Book of Mormon," the hit Broadway musical by "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (along with Robert Lopez of "Avenue Q" fame), opens Wednesday night in L.A. at the Pantages for its first foray outside of New York City. If you don't know the story, it's about a pair of eager young Mormon missionaries who get assigned to spread their religion in rural Africa, and the challenges to their faith they encounter.
"I've been wanting to see 'The Book of Mormon' since the moment I heard it existed," said musical fan Patrick Fisackerly. He says he's loved Parker and Stone since the early days of "South Park," along with the South Park movie, which was (much to the surprise of many fans) also a musical. "[It's] one of the best movie musicals of the last 30 years," Fisackerly said. (He's not alone in that opinion — musical composing legend Stephen Sondheim said that musical was "just terrific.")
Fisackerly said that what impresses him about the Best Musical Tony Award-winning "Book of Mormon" is that, while many Broadway musicals offer a mediocre product in an attempt to reach the masses, "Book of Mormon" both offered something challenging while proving a financial success. "These days, that's such a rare thing," Fisackerly said.
Is anything changing for the L.A. staging? The creators say, not much. "We didn't necessarily write the show for a New York crowd. Like anything we do, we wrote it to make each other laugh, so I don't think we have to change too much," Trey Parker told Los Angeles Magazine.
Co-creator Robert Lopez had been out for a show in L.A. before when "Avenue Q" went on tour, and told L.A. Magazine that it was a great crowd.
"It's always nice when a show opens and it's fresh there to that crowd. That's the most fun time to see something. The actors are excited and the audience is excited, so I'm excited for that," Lopez said.
Justin Morissette is one fan who managed to move out of New York City before it opened there, and just moved away from Los Angeles, missing the show twice. "I want to see that show so bad," Morissette said.
"You know it's going to be funny, but in everything they've done, [Matt Stone and Trey Parker] show a knack for writing incredibly catch songs that work both musically and comedically." Morissette was also excited about Parker and Stone taking on the Mormon church.
It's also a show that plays to musical nerds, offering its own take while both using and satirizing musical tropes. "[It gives] Broadway lovers and haters all something to enjoy. They can have their cake and sing about it too," Fisackerly said.
The show's most iconic number is one that we probably can't get into the specifics of here for the sake of propriety, but "Hasa Diga Eebowai" takes the infections joy of "Hakuna Matata" from "The Lion King" and turns it on its head, using the jolly melody to point out poverty and the ravages of AIDS. In the end, it turns into an exultant song of explicit blasphemy, horrifying the show's Mormon missionary lead characters. For the brave among you, you can listen to the explicit — and I stress explicit — song here.
Fisackerly got his tickets online. He didn't have access to his computer, but his girlfriend scored the couple seats. "There were a lot of stressed out text messages exchanged," Fisackerly said.
Want a last minute ticket for opening night? One seller is trying to sell two tickets for $2,002 on Craigslist, though there are many other pairs both there and on ticket-reselling site Stubhub for more reasonable prices, with their tickets starting at $60 for a pair and going up to $259.
Not excited about spending that kind of cash for your musical joy jollies? As they do with other shows, the Pantages is holding a pre-show ticket lottery. You can go and apply for either one or two tickets two and a half hours before showtime, with a drawing two hours ahead of the show — those tickets are only $25. You can also get a group discount — if you can get 15 people together.
Want a preview of some of the show's big numbers? You can check out some of the less explicit songs via Tony performances below.
This year's Tonys featured the show's opening number, "Hello," which the Tonys used as their own opening number following the musical's dominance the year before:
"I Believe" offers at least the musical authors' perspective on what the beliefs of the Mormon church are: