PLAYBILL PICKS: The Top Theatre Stories of 2011 From Spider-Man to Sondheim to Site-Specific Shows

By Robert Simonson
23 Dec 2011

Matt Stone and Trey Parker
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

MORMON WORTH ITS SALT: Broadway hadn't had a true, juggernaut mega-hit — the kind that gets everyone, theatregoers and non-theatregoers alike, talking and racing to the box office — since The Producers and Jersey Boys. And, as with those two shows, The Book of Mormon came from New York theatre outsiders. Trey Parker and Matt Stone were not who you pictured when you thought of theatre people. The sassy "South Park" creators were, in fact, just the sort of people you thought might have beaten up theatre geeks in high school. Yet, with effortless ease, they turned out a gangbuster crowd-pleaser (their co-writer was Avenue Q's gifted co-author Robert Lopez). Sure, it made savage fun of the fastest growing religion in the United States, had dozen of jokes about AIDS, civil war and homophobia, and an "up" number about giving the finger to the Almighty. But a number of critics also noticed that it had a lot in common, plot-wise and sentiment-wise with The Music Man. It didn't hurt its profile that the show opened in a year when prominent Mormons (Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman) were running for President. Here's the spring Brief Encounter interview with Lopez, who, with Parker and Stone, won 2011 Tonys for their work. The show also snagged the Tony for Best Musical.