Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2017

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Preview: Hit musical ‘The Book of Mormon’ brings its mission to the Smith Center


Charles Sykes / AP

Trey Parker and Matt Stone appear at the curtain call for the opening-night performance of their Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” on Thursday, March 24, 2011, in New York.

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"The Book of Mormon" is part of Broadway Season 2 at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Las Vegas.

Click to enlarge photo

"The Book of Mormon" is part of the Broadway Season 2 lineup at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Las Vegas.

The definition of heresy is any provocative belief, opinion, theory or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.

The definition of blasphemy is the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about sacred things with profane talk.

The words “heresy” and “blasphemy” are not likely to be shouted from the Smith Center for the Performing Arts seats as the Tony-winning “Book of Mormon” opens for its nearly monthlong run (June 10-July 6).

However, there’s guaranteed to be some mumbles equating to moral outrage and disapproving out-loud groans at the satire and mockery of the religion headquartered in our neighboring state.

“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have often ruffled feathers with their bull’s-eye targeting of life’s absurd hypocrisies on their long-running animated hit series, so they are certain, as the show’s writers, to be lambasted here in Las Vegas, our Mormon-centric gaming suburb of Salt Lake City.

After all, the production on Broadway was damned by so-called respectable media while simultaneously being hailed as “the best musical of the century.” It won nine Tonys in 2011, including Best Musical.

“The Book of Mormon” is holy (wholly) irreverent in its satirical storytelling of two clean-cut, short-haired men in trademark white, short-sleeved shirts and ties on a mission to help solve an AIDS epidemic in Uganda. Just the thought of tap dancing in an old-fashioned lineup to deal with an angry, foul-mouthed witch doctor is reason enough to know that it’s going to be an edgy night of entertainment.

The show’s arrival at the Smith Center has been much anticipated and eagerly awaited for months, but at the same time has caused some uncomfortable squirming in season-ticketholder seats. Do you laugh? Do you pray? Do you try to stop your feet tapping along to the music and songs?

We know that flights from SLC to Las Vegas are packed weekly with people wanting their taste of the fruits of our entertainment and gaming capital. Whether any of them will be buying tickets to see the provocative, in-your-face, edgy humor of “The Book of Mormon” is anybody’s guess.

And if they do, will they confess their theatrical experience to the bishop and stake president? Something tells me that we’re not likely to see Mitt Romney and family at tonight’s premiere.

We’ll have a report from the first night right here at Vegas DeLuxe on Wednesday with its ruffled feathers or excited applause.

“The Book of Mormon” is playing at the Smith Center on Tuesdays through Sundays, dark Mondays, through July 6. Go to the Smith Center website for tickets and showtimes.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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