Review: ‘Book of Mormon’ gains believers in Denver

Posted on: 1:34 pm, August 20, 2012, by , updated on: 01:43pm, August 20, 2012

Jared Gertner playing Elder Cunningham at the "Book of Mormon" premiere in Denver.

Jared Gertner playing Elder Cunningham at the "Book of Mormon" premiere in Denver.

DENVER — In today’s world, few things actually live up to the hype. 

I’d heard so much about “The Book Of Mormon,” that I fully expected to be underwhelmed by the musical’s Denver premiere.  But as the lights  in the theater dimmed and the national tour officially launched,  I was fully baptized into the experience. 

The opening number gleefully exclaims, “This Book Will Change Your Life.”  It certainly changed my view of theater.

“The Book Of Mormon” didn’t meet expectations, it exceeded them.  Somehow, this show beautifully manages to be both innocent and vulgar — both shocking and big-hearted.  And at  its core, “Book Of Mormon” possesses a joy and a humor that are impossible to resist.   

Yes,  there’s raunch.

There are f-bombs, scatological puns, references to anatomy. But these jokes are never made at the expense of the larger story; they only add to it. There’s a difference between a put down and a send-up. 

Far from offensive, “Book Of Mormon” actually endeared the Mormons to me. It’s a classic Broadway tale of friendship, love and finding your purpose along with your faith.

The laughter last night was uproarious and nearly non-stop. But it would have been hollow without characters that make you fall in love.

In our interview with Trey Parker, he summed up his and co-creator Matt Stone’s efforts:  “If, at its heart, ‘Mormon’ didn’t have a story of two kids coming of age, and a sweetness and a happiness to it, it would never work as a musical.

“That’s what I love about musicals,” Parker continued. “I want to see dancing and happy people and not some big two-hour bash on religion.”

It’s what we all long to see. And as of this morning, I may still not be a Mormon, but I now believe.