Broadway Baptism: The Book of Mormon, From Creators of "South Park" and Avenue Q, Opens

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24 Mar 2011

Andrew Rannells
Andrew Rannells
Photo by Joan Marcus

Broadway answers the door to The Book of Mormon — from Emmy Award-winning "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q Tony Award winner Robert Lopez — March 24 when the irreverent new musical officially opens at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre.

Josh Gad ("The Daily Show with Jon Stewart") and Andrew Rannells (Jersey Boys) star as an unlikely pair of Mormon missionaries who venture from Salt Lake City to AIDS-ravaged Uganda in the hopes of converting villagers with the story of Joseph Smith and the founding of the Mormon Church. The problem is: Only one of them has actually read the book. Broadway previews began Feb. 24.

Parker co-directs with Tony Award nominee Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone, Spamalot), who also choreographs. Book, music and lyrics are by Parker, Stone and Lopez. Lead producers are Scott Rudin and Anne Garefino.

Despite the unlikely subject matter and a liberal dose of adult language, The Book of Mormon is written and staged in the vein of a traditional Broadway musical. "Actually, if you look at what we've done in our career, it makes total sense to take on Broadway," Stone told Playbill.com. "It's such a great form. You can do twice as much in the amount of time with a musical, because you can go in-depth and you have people go, 'I feel this!'"

"We're basically riffing on The Music Man," Lopez added, "where someone comes into a town with a lie to sell and changes the town and, actually, the lie turns out to be true in a way."



Gad and Rannells star as Elders Cunningham and Price, respectively, with Rory O'Malley (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Elder McKinley, Nikki M. James (All Shook Up) as Nabalungi and Michael Potts (Grey Gardens) as Mafala Hatimbi.

The cast also includes Lewis Cleale, Scott Barnhardt, Justin Bohon, Darlesia Cearcy, Kevin Duda, Asmeret Ghebremichael, Brian Tyree Henry, Clark Johnsen, John Eric Parker, Jason Michael Snow, Benjamin Schrader, Michael James Scott, Brian Sears, Lawrence Stallings, Rema Webb, Maia Nkenge Wilson, Tommar Wilson, Graham Bowen, Ta’Rea Campbell, Jared Gertner, Tyson Jennette and Nick Spangler.

The Book of Mormon has designs by Scott Pask (sets), Ann Roth (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Brian Ronan (sound). Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and music supervision is by Stephen Oremus.  

Parker and Stone have earned four Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for "South Park," which is now in its 15th season. Their films include "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" (Academy Award nomination for Best Song) and "Team America: World Police."

Lopez co-created Avenue Q, earning 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Cast Album. He has also penned Finding Nemo: The Musical with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, as well as the Broadway-bound original musical Up Here, which will play the La Jolla Playhouse this year.

For tickets, $59-$137, phone (212) 239-6200 or visit Telecharge. The Eugene O'Neill Theatre is located at 230 West 49th Street.

Here's Playbill.com's interview with the Book of Mormon authors: