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Review Roundup: THE BOOK OF MORMON on Broadway - All the Reviews!

THE BOOK OF MORMON opened Thursday, March 24 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. THE BOOK OF MORMON features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of Comedy Central's landmark animated series, "South Park." Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q. The world premiere musical is choreographed by three-time Tony Award-nominee Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python's Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and directed by Nicholaw and Parker.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: This is to all the doubters and deniers out there, the ones who say that heaven on Broadway does not exist, that it's only some myth our ancestors dreamed up. I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived at the Eugene O'Neill Theater, the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air if not on water. So hie thee hence, nonbelievers (and believers too), to "The Book of Mormon," and feast upon its sweetness.

Elysa Gardner, USA Today: This buoyancy is enhanced by a game young cast, under Parker and Casey Nicholaw's sprightly direction. Andrew Rannells is picture-perfect as the square, hyper-ambitious Elder Price, whose frustrated wish to transfer to Disney/boy-band capitol Orlando is a running joke. As Cunningham, Price's portly, socially inept partner and foil, Josh Gad overdoes the sloppy-sidekick shtick a bit, but not so much that he doesn't make us laugh and, eventually, cheer his progress. In fact, regardless of your spiritual inclinations - or lack thereof - you're likely to leave The Book of Mormon a little happier for the experience. Seriously.

Steve Suskin, Variety: Given the key contributors that "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone teamed with for their first Broadway outing, one might expect "The Book of Mormon" to show the influences of "Spamalot" and "Avenue Q." As it happens, this raucously funny new show surpasses both of those Tony winners, and handily so: Every song enhances the hilarity, expert staging heightens every gag, and the cast of fresh faces is blissfully good. Broadway hasn't seen anything like it since Mel Brooks came to town with "The Producers," only "Mormon" has better songs.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: The entire cast is terrific, and Gad and Rannells make a dynamite pair, exchanging leader and follower roles with equal conviction. Gad (a correspondent on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart) may be giving the single funniest, most endearing performance on Broadway. But Rannells is not far behind, his character's righteousness at war with his inflated ego.

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: A: Teaming with Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez (South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker) to wrote a perfect book, music, and lyrics, they honor the traditions of great song-and-dance musical theater in all the best ways: Every detail of the production - choreographed with typical brilliance by Spamalot's Casey Nicholaw and codirected by Nicholaw and Parker - serves a purpose.

Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: "The Book of Mormon," which opened Thursday at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, is inventive and slick and subversive. It is funnier and smarter than "Monty Python's Spamalot," managing to offend, provoke laughter, trigger eye-rolling, satirize conventions and warm hearts, all at the same time.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: It's a show where you catch yourself laughing one minute, mouth agape the next, eventually wiping away tears, and, finally, cheering. Stone and Parker are famous for their take-no-prisoners, nothing-is-sacred approach to humor. And Lopez knows about thumbing his nose at contemporary conventions. They all share credit for the book, music and lyrics. Silly, soulful and (no surprise with these guys) seriously rude, the score is consistently chipper and clever and keeps the pages in this "Book" turning smoothly.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Told the creators of "South Park" were making a Broadway musical, you'd naturally expect a broad, foul-mouthed, juvenile, scatological, irreverent satire. Sure enough, "The Book of Mormon," which opened last night, is all that - and much, much more. It's a fiendishly well-crafted, hilariously smart - or maybe smartly hilarious - song-and-dance extravaganza. The show's a hoot. The show's a hit.

Charles McNulty, The LA Times: But for all its irreverence - and there's enough off-color insouciance to offend church ladies of every denomination - "The Book of Mormon" has the old-fashioned musical comedy heart of adults who spent much of their adolescence lip-syncing to original cast albums in their finished basements.

Roma Torre, NY 1: It is meticulously cast and everyone shines. Nikki M. James as sweetly naive Nabalungi has a gorgeous voice. Andrew Rannells plays golden boy Elder Price with divine versatility; and as misfit Elder Cunningham, Josh Gad is truly blessed with outsize talent. Casey Nicholaw shares directing credit with Trey Parker. Along with Stone and Lopez, their "Book of Mormon" is an inspired collaboration made in theatre heaven.

Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune: But just as it starts to feel as if watching the "South Park" guys deconstruct the apparent illogicalities of Mormonism is starting to sound the same, one-sided note, Parker, Stone and Lopez engineer a very savvy twist in the narrative. This re-energizes the show early in the second act, focuses it more acutely on those "Avenue Q"-like themes of young people seeking out their purpose and propels it to a conclusion that leaves audience members feeling they've attended something weightier than a series of pointed laughs fired into a soft religious target.

Scott Brown, NY Magazine: The Book of Mormon, arriving after months of hype, somehow delivers even more than its ridiculously felicitous advance buzz promised: It's an often uproarious, spiritually up-tempo satire not just of Mormonism, and not just religion in general, but of (no kidding) Occidental civilization itself, in all its well-intentioned, self-mythologizing, autoerotically entitled glory.

Peter Marks, The Washington Post:"The Book of Mormon" expresses a giddy contempt for that innocence, in one of the most joyously acidic bundles Broadway has unwrapped in years. (Applause, too, for set designer Scott Pask's gloomy rendering of an African village.) The sin it takes such fond aim at - blind faith - is one that this musical suggests observes no religious bounds.

David Sheward, Backstage: the sharp-edged book and fun score by Parker, Stone, and Lopez offer a screamingly funny yet sharply insightful full-length take on religion in general and Mormonism in particular. There are also pointed but loving tributes to musical comedy conventions, shockingly vulgar humor, and that rarity on Broadway these days: topical and effective satire.

Brendan Lemon, The Financial Times: Stretched to Broadway length, the duo's patented gags pall: in this surprisingly old-fashioned show, when we get to a trimmable production number called "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream", the comparisons to South Park reach their apogee, and not in favour of the stage musical. The audience devours all the antics. Casey Nicholaw, who co-directed with Parker and whose previous safe-for-your-teenage-son Broadway musical credit was Spamalot, keeps his actors, especially the terrifically game ensemble who play a chorus of young Mormon missionaries, in whirring motion.

Linda Winer, Newsday: 'The Book of Mormon," the jubilant and expert one-joke Broadway musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, is everything you should expect from a show by the heat-seeking rascals of "South Park." What you may not expect, however, is the sweetness.

Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal: Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the naughty boys of "South Park," have teamed up with Robert Lopez, one of the co-creators of "Avenue Q," and the results of their collaboration are pretty much what you'd expect: slick and smutty. "The Book of Mormon" is the first musical to open on Broadway since "La Cage aux Folles" that has the smell of a send-in-the-tourists hit. Casey Nicholaw ("The Drowsy Chaperone") has staged the musical numbers with cheery energy, and the cast, especially Nikki M. James, is terrific. But don't let anybody try to tell you that "The Book of Mormon" is suitable for anyone other than 12-year-old boys who have yet to graduate from fart jokes to "Glee." A couple of reasonably effective production numbers notwithstanding, it's flabby, amateurish and very, very safe.

Matt Windman, AM New York: As you'd probably expect, the show's potty-mouth creators do not refrain from using explicit language. But in spite of the curse words, "The Book of Mormon" is an upbeat, even sentimental musical that combines Rodgers & Hammerstein, "Les Miz"-style powerhouse ballads and tap dancing.

Richard Ouzounian, Toronto Star: The bottom line is that the show we all hoped would set Broadway on its ear, simply pats it on its back, providing us with generic pastiche comedy and timidly tepid satire.

Michael Musto, The Village Voice: The show--done by the South Park guys with the help of an Avenue Q writer--manages the high-wire feat of spoofing religion, poverty, and Jesus, while throwing in AIDS jokes and songs about closeted Mormons "turning it off"--and virtually everyone leaves happy!

Howard Shapiro, The Philadelphia Inquirer: The show is a hoot - and a literal guilty pleasure. Parker and Stone have made their names by pushing the line between irreverence and offense until it stretches into a blur. It's impossible not to laugh at their two mismatched Mormon guys (played for maximum ingratiation by the wonderful Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells) as they run up against every cultural barrier they confront at a Ugandan village (where Nikki M. James and Michael Potts gamely play the main roles.)

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