RICHMOND, Va. -- As the Tony award-winning, Broadway smash hit, "The Book of Mormon," continued its Richmond run through the weekend, there are those who think the outrageously irreverent musical that has explicit sport with Mormons, Christianity and Judaism might be too-much for Richmond.
But for the most part, I found the comedy created by the makers of South Park was right at home here.
I visited with many patrons before and after the show. (Please watch the video report - it's pretty cool.)
Most going in seemed to be fully aware that its content was going to be over-the-top. Several I spoke with were grateful the theater was hip enough to bring it.
Show-goers were in their late teens to their 80s, with one busload coming from the Cedarfield retirement community.
Shortly after the show started, I left for my dinner, but came back about 45 minutes before it ended. I saw only a few people leaving early. One couple said they liked the show, but they had a party they wanted to make.
I set up my camera by the main exits and spoke to numerous patrons leaving the show.
Apart from a few people who thought the use of the f- and c-words was excessive, everyone I spoke with said they enjoyed the show. One of the Cedarfield retirement crew told me, "I'm a urologist. I've seen it all before."
Another older woman said "it's definitely not for children."
One former Mormon and the wife of a Mormon both said they loved it. (The real-life Mormons who good-naturedly spread their gospel to passing patrons that rainy eve passed out about 325 copies of the actual "Book of Mormon," they said.)
Several patrons heaped praise on renovations to the old Landmark Theater (formerly The Mosque).
And several experienced theater-goers, including those who've seen shows in New York City, echoed the words of Melissa Owens:
"Absolutely amazing show. Better than the Lion King. Best Broadway show I've ever seen!!"
But I missed hearing from those who hated it, or were furious that it even played here.
Here are the thoughts of Jane Christian, sent to our station the next day;
"Where were Mark Holmberg's interviews with the patrons who left the theater during the Book of Mormon? I missed all of those interviews which would have made for fair and unbiased reporting," she wrote. "There are so many issues to address it is difficult to decide which issue is more important. I am a subscriber who buys 10 Broadway season tickets to give as gifts. The only advertising I read concerning this play was one-sided biased reports like Mark Holmberg's. So I thought it would be another wonderful season of plays."
"I call it false advertising when all media reviews in the Richmond tout the Tony awards won by a play like 'Book Of Mormon,' mention only cute songs like " Ding- dong Hello my name is Elder Price" and totally ignore or sugarcoat the vulgarities as humor.
We never read a word about the often repeated fun little phrase, "Fu*k you God" from the play or are we told in the review the name for one of the major roles in the play is a warlord called "naked Bu*t Fuc***"? What about recalling in print the dream where the Book of Mormon is being removed from a rectum? Or the line Maggots are in my scrotum? How about the cute obsessive four-minute song posing the question of whether bu*t fu**ing or cu*t fu**ing is the best fun? Let's do a dissertation on the aforementioned warlord's obsession with female circumcision.
The reviews share none of this information. I call it false advertising. Ticket buyers like myself have to give up their entire season if they choose to leave out this play. How do we make an informed decision based on reviews like Mark Holmberg's?
BUT.. thankfully that same God, which another Richmond review says, "was profaned so humorously" in Book of Mormon ...PROTECTED me and my family from disaster.
Thankfully the God I know put road blocks in our schedules preventing my bringing together several good friends and my young niece to see this Book of Mormon, otherwise I would have been sitting inside the Altria Saturday afternoon with my 12-year-old niece, her father and eight other good friends, horrified and ashamed.
I suspect the reason we read no detail of these other songs and harsh parts of the play 'Book of Mormon' from reviewers and advertisers is because many season subscribers, like myself, would demand their money back!"
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