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The story follows two young Mormon men who are assigned to Uganda as part of their mission. One of them is a fresh-faced, eager young man, while the other one hasn't really read the Bible yet and keeps accidentally confusing it with popular fiction.
The musical pokes fun at organized religion, but in the end, the characters realize that their faith has inspired them to be better people and to help others. Even if they convey the Bible's stories in a wildly inaccurate way -- typically involving Mordor and Boba Fett -- their honesty and optimism ends up convincing their Ugandan students to convert to Mormonism and try to make the world a better place.
The cast album was released, and became the best-selling cast album of all time on iTunes, beating out American Idiot and reaching #2. The full soundtrack can be streamed for free on the official Facebook page.
The show won a huge number of Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Not to be confused with the actual religious text The Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon Provides Examples of...
- Adorkable: Elder Cunningham.
- Affectionate Parody: Of musical theatre.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: Averted in a completely original musical. Although it takes a large chunk from the South Park episode about Joseph Smith, written by the same people.
- Armored Closet Gay: Played for Laughs with Elder McKinley.
- Artistic License Religion - The mechanics of how a mission operates are completely off:
- Missionaries find out where they're going via mail long before they go to the Missionary Training Center.
- They also don't spend their entire two years with the same companion; they're usually at least a hundred or so missionaries in different areas of a mission boundary (which, while it may vary in size, is almost certainly larger than just one village). The opportunity to be assigned to a different companion/area within the mission comes up every 6 weeks.
- Likewise, some liberties are taken with Mormon history and beliefs -- at least 11 other people claimed to have seen the Golden Plates, and Mormons don't actually believe in a literal Hell as portrayed in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream".
- Granted, if the musical did follow all the rules of missionary life and stuck completely to Mormon doctrine, it would have had a completely different plot.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: During "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream":
Hitler: I started a war, and killed millions of Jews.
- Elder Price then proceeds to claim he's worse than all of the above for the thoughtless way he treated his mission brother.
- As the Good Book Says...: Subverted - Elder Cunningham can't find appropriate verses that condemn things like raping babies or genital mutilation, so he resorts to making it up.
- Ass Pull: Elder Cunningham does this repeatedly, In-Universe. When the Africans perform a stage play of the events of the Book of Mormon as described by Cunningham to the President of the Mormon Church, he decommissions the mission.
- Ass Shove: Happens to Elder Price in Act II. It's a bit of Mood Whiplash -- at first, it looks like General Butt-Fucking-Naked is going to kill or otherwise mutilate Elder Price... and then we see him in the doctor's office, where an X-Ray shows that his own copy of the Book of Mormon's been shoved up there.
- Book Ends: The musical begins with missionaries knocking on doors. The ending number has the newly-converted Ugandans doing the same. With the "Book of Arnold."
- Back From the Dead: Played With when a disillusioned Nabulungi tells the other villagers that Elder Cunningham isn't coming back because "he was eaten by lions, alright?" When he walks back onstage, Mafala excitedly declares, "Our prophet returns even from the dead!"
- Break the Cutie: Cunningham.
- Break the Haughty: Elder Price.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The Ugandans, particularly their first song, "Hasa Diga Eebowai", which translates to Fuck You, God.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Elder Price's idea of torture during "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" involves being force-fed coffee
- Country Matters: The Ugandans enjoy this swear almost as much as the F bomb.
- Creator Cameo: Trey Parker and Matt Stone provide the voices of the Narrator, Mormon the Nephite, and Jesus Christ in the opening scenes of Act I and II.
- Crossover Cosmology: Elder Cunningham starts mixing the Mormon theology... with stuff from Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
- Crowd Song: Many, most notably "Hasa Diga Eebowai" and "Man Up".
- Dare to Be Badass: Elder Cunningham does this to himself with "Man Up".
- Dark Reprise: A section of You And Me gets a Dark Reprise in the middle of I Am Africa, and Nabalungi gets a Dark Reprise of Hasa Diga Eebowai.
- Dialogue Reversal: When Elder Price and Elder Cunningham reprise "But Mostly Me", the titular line of dialogue is spoken by Cunningham instead.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Spooky Mormon Hell Dream
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- "Baptize Me" includes a multitude of Double Entendres. Yes, a song about baptism turns it into a double entendre.
- The moment when General Butt Fucking Naked and his guards close in on Elder Price is reminiscent of a scene from the story of Abinadi in The Book of Mormon. In fact, Elder Price quotes Abinadi directly by saying "Touch me not!"
- Dead Baby Comedy: More specifically, raped baby comedy.
- Disney Princess: Word of God says that Nabulungi is a parody of these.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream".
- Geeky Analogy: Elder Cunningham rationalizes concepts of The Book of Mormon to himself and explains them to the Africans using Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references.
- G-Rated Drug: Coffee, to Elder Price at least.
- Hakuna Matata: Played with twice. Most noticeably in 'Hasa Diga Eebowai' where the true meaning of the phrase subverts the normal optimism of the trope. The trope is then deconstructed in 'Turn It Off' where the missionaries sing about forgetting their problems, but instead of this being a sign of how care-free they are, it hints at Stepford Smiler tendencies as the Elders suppress their emotions through tap-dance.
- Heel Faith Turn: Double Subversion. When Elder Price prances in during "I Believe", General Butt Fucking Naked is... unimpressed. At the end, though, when he's confronted by Elders Cunningham, Price, and the Ugandans, he relents and joins the missionaries in the final number.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Price and Cunningham by the end of the show.
- "I Want" Song: "Sal Tlay Ka Siti".
- It's All About Me: Elder Price has a problem with this, best seen in "You And Me (But Mostly Me)".
- Large Ham: "Have you heard the story of our prophet, Arnold Cunningham, Arnold Cunningham, Arnold Cunning...HAAAA-AAALLLOOOO!!!
- Last-Second Word Swap:
- During "Hello", where at one point the singers go "So you won't burn in..." and another man belts out a "HeeeeeEEEEEEELL-OOOOOOOOOOOO!"
- In "Hasa Diga Eebowai", Mafala Hatimbi says, "Here's the butcher, he has AIDS, here's the teacher, she has AIDS, here's the doctor, he has AIDS, here's my daughter she has AAAAAAA......wonderful disposition!"
- Letting the Air Out of the Band: The band does a live version of this once we see Uganda for the first time in the show.
- Man Child: Elder Cunningham.
- Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: "Man Up" becomes one about half way through.
- Mighty Whitey: Parodied in "I Am Africa," which is sung by the (very white) missionaries.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Invoked Trope by the various Elders' stories in "Turn It Off".
- Played straight when General Butt Fucking Naked arrives. We get all of two minutes to laugh at his name...before he point-blank shoots a rebellious villager, complete with blood spurting out of the villager's head.
- Played straight when Elder Price is about to be attacked by General Butt Naked, there is some humor in it, but the the scene and music is overall suspenseful... then whiplash to a lighthearted, playful tune as the scene shifts to Elder Cunningham.
- Musicalis Interruptus: "All American Prophet" is momentarily interrupted by the running gag. Notable in that it's a rare example of a song being interrupted by something else sung. (And the interrupting song fits into the previous rhyme, which is even more impressive.)
- Oh Crap: You can tell the music is doing this when we learn Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are going to Uganda. Yes, that Uganda.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: During Spooky Mormon Hell Dream ("Rectus! Dominus! Spookytus! Deus! Creepytus!").
- Precision F-Strike:
- Yes, even in a musical filled with the word, there's a precision strike during "Joseph Smith American Moses": "Compassion! Courtesy! Let's be really fucking polite to everyone!" (Also, arguably, "Take these fucking golden plates!")
- Also, in the middle of "I Believe", when Elder Price comes prancing into Butt Fucking Naked's headquarters, his response is "...The fuck is this?"
- At the end of the show, after constant problems during his mission, Elder Price drops his Gosh Dang It to Heck and delivers a nice big "You know what, guys? Fuck him." "Him" in this case refers to the Mission President, who just declared the Ugandan mission disbanded in failure and disgrace thanks to Elder Cunningham's embarrassing cavalcade of Ass Pulls.
- Rage Against the Heavens: A whole musical number, in fact.
- Record Scratch: "And your mission location is... Uganda!" [[[Record Scratch]]]
- Red Baron: The local warlord is called General "Butt Fucking Naked" because, in his own words, "When I kill my enemies and drink their blood, I do it butt. Fucking. Naked!" As a Genius Bonus, "General Butt Naked" (sans Fucking) is also a Real Life Liberian warlord. (Said General Butt Naked also stopped being a warlord after converting to Christianity...)
- Running Gag:
- Shout-Out: Due to the show's nature as a parody, there are a lot of music shout-outs.
- "Joseph Smith American Moses" is likely an homage to "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" from The King and I.
- Also, "You And Me (But Mostly Me)" seems to be a parody of "The Wizard and I" from Wicked. It also has similar chords to "Defying Gravity".
- "I Believe" has an opening that parodies "I Have Confidence" from The Sound of Music.
- A chunk of "All American Prophet" has Elder Price imitating Robert Preston's sing-talking from The Music Man, while the rest of it is a shout-out to Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
- Though a parody of the "I Want" Song in general, "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" seems to specifically be a parody of "Somewhere That's Green" from Little Shop of Horrors.
- "Hasa Diga Eebowai" parodies "Hakuna Matata". Elder Cunningham asks the Ugandans, "Does it mean no worries for the rest of our days?"
- During "Hasa Diga Eebowai", when Hatimbi reaches the "aaaaaaaa ... Wonderful disposition" part of the song, both the text and his vocal timbre become a shout-out to Les Misérables.
- During "Making Things Up Again", hobbits, Mordor, Yoda, and Boba Fett all are referenced.
- The "Orlando" chorus in "Two by Two" is a blatant shout-out to "Tomorrow" from Annie.
- Shown Their Work: The creators did their homework about Mormon theology.
- Skyward Scream: Subverted/parodied in "Joseph Smith American Moses" when Smith dies. Brigham Young: "DESPERATION! MORTALITY! LOSS OF FAITH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHIIIIIIII... got the golden plates!"
- Stepford Smiler: The Mormons. Best displayed in the song "Turn it Off."
- Title Drop: In "Hello".
- Triumphant Reprise:
- "Hasa Diga Eebowai" is reprised as "Thank You God" during "Joseph Smith American Moses" and the reprise of "Hello."
- The already upbeat "I Believe" is briefly reprised as part of the even more optimistic "Tomorrow Is a Latter Day".
- Unfortunate Implications: In-universe: "And if I want to get [to Paradise], I just have to follow that white boy!"
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Cunningham.
"Together, we're gonna bring lots of Africans to the church! And then my dad will finally feel proud of me, instead of just feeling stuck with me."
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Elder Price and Nabulungi.
- Which may double as Fridge Horror if you think about the fact that maggots eat only decaying flesh.