Audiences can finally have an idea about what will fill the pages of The Book of Mormon when the new musical begins previews on February 24 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who co-wrote the show with Avenue Q scribe Robert Lopez, sat down with Vogue’s Adam Green to talk about their top-secret tuner for the magazine’s February issue, featuring cover girl Kristen Stewart.
“Mormons are so Disney and Rodgers & Hammerstein to begin with that it makes perfect sense for them to break into song,” Parker, who will co-direct the musical with Casey Nicholaw, said about targeting the religion. “That’s why, in many ways, this feels like a traditional musical. You’re being cheesy and corny and all—but that’s who Mormons naturally are.”
The show will follow two missionaries, Elder Price (Andrew Rannells), an ambitious golden boy, and Elder Cunningham (Josh Gad) an unpopular and overweight teen who desperately craves acceptance. The pair is sent to Uganda where they learn Africa is far from the Lion King-like images they’ve concocted in their minds.
“You’ve got these little 19 year-old white boys from Utah with their attitude of ‘We know how the world works,’” Stone told Vogue. “Then they get sent to a place filled with poverty and starvation and AIDS and all sorts of superbad shit, and suddenly none of what they’ve learned is of any use at all.”
No strangers to controversy, Parker and Stone dismiss the notion that audiences will be offended by their show. “We love musicals, and we love Mormons,” Parker says. “I think if any Mormons come and stay all the way through, they’ll end up liking the show. I mean, it rips on them a lot, but in the end their spirit of wanting to help wins the day.”