CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Award-winning musical “The Book of Mormon” opens today at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, bringing bawdy humor and a satirical look on religion, missionaries and social issues like homosexuality to a southern town known for its skittishness on provocative, gay-themed art and theatre.
Created by the team that brought hit cartoon series “South Park” to TV sets across the nation, “The Book of Mormon” follows two young Mormon missionaries as they travel to a village in Uganda. There, a warlord threatens locals. In the midst of the threats, the two missionaries attempt sharing the Book of Mormon, while locals are far more concerned about war, famine, poverty and AIDS. The musical also includes gay themes, as one of the characters struggles with his own repressed gay feelings.
The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2011 and is now on national tour, has received positive responses from critics and several awards, including nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The musical’s stop in Charlotte garnered some controversy earlier this month, when Blumenthal President Tom Gabbard emailed season subscribers with a warning about the show’s language and content and offering to switch patrons’ tickets for another show. The warning elicited strong reactions online, with some comparing reservations over “Mormon” to the negative reactions the theatre community received after a 1996 performance of the gay- and AIDS-themed “Angels in America.” Blumenthal has issued similar warnings for other gay-themed theatre performances, including “Spring Awakening” in 2010. That musical included nudity, strong language and sexual themes. Last year, local Catholics protested another gay-themed musical, “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” presented by the independent Queen City Theatre Company.
“The Book of Mormon” opens today, Dec. 26, and continues through Jan. 5. For more information and for tickets, visit blumenthalarts.org/events/detail/the-book-of-mormon.