South Park's Matt & Trey launch Mormon Broadway musical with Avenue Q co-creator

matt-trey.jpg"South Park" co-creators Matt Stone (L) and Trey Parker (R) are teaming up with "Avenue Q" co-creator Robert Lopez to develop a Mormon-themed Broadway musical. "The Book of Mormon" will open in March, 2011. It's not a South Park musical, but in the great tradition of South Park "ripping on religions" (as Mr. Stone put it in our previous Boing Boing Video interview, below), the story follows two young Mormon missionaries who set out to fix the world—specifically, Uganda, during a violent civil conflict—and soon realize they have no idea what they're getting into.

"Their tale is told alongside the story of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Latter-day Saints," according to a press release out today. After our South Park interview this week, Stone described a little of the play to me. His impromptu impersonation of a young missionary in wide-eyed, naïve shock, bible in hand as he witnesses atrocities, says it all. I expect the same irreverence and fearless "ripping" one finds in South Park, but accompanied by totally sweet Broadway tunes. Can't wait.

This is the first time the duo have headed to the Great White Way, but Matt and Trey are no strangers to musical comedy. Their cult film classic Cannibal the Musical, which also enjoyed a run in live theaters in various spots around the USA, explored an odd episode of Colorado history: the life and times of Alferd Packer, the first man convicted of cannibalism in the USA ("He and his companions lost their way and resorted to unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping songs!").

Matt and Trey are writing the "Mormon" script, music, and lyrics, with Lopez, who won a Tony Award for "Avenue Q." Trey will co-direct with Jason Moore, whose credits include "Avenue Q," and "Shrek the Musical." Scott Rudin ("God of Carnage," "Fences") and Anne Garefino (South Park's executive producer) will produce.

More: Nikki Finke, AP, New York Times, Variety, Playbill, Theater Mania, USA Today, New York Post.

Related: South Park's 200th episode airs tonight at 10pm on Comedy Central.


  1. Oh man this sounds great. I loved Avenue Q and I loved South Park’s Mormon episode (dum dum dum dum dummmm). The two together sounds delicious as a Reese’s.

  2. This is also not their first non-South Park work involving Mormon missionaries; see their 1997 NC-17 porn/superhero opus, Orgazmo.

  3. The only sad thing is this is as exposed as some people will be to the religion.

    I was a missionary in SLC, UT for the LDS Church. I don’t think they’ll be damning, but as my father says, “You can only kick the LDS church upstairs.”

  4. …On gets the impression that there’s more to this interview. Is the whole interview available online somewhere? One that’s bigger, longer and uncut?

  5. I love those guys. That interview is awesome. Every time I hear them speak I hear people with world views that are exactly the same as mine. It is a breath of fresh air in a world of left and right insanity.

    1. Every time I hear them speak I hear people with world views that are exactly the same as mine.

      Yeah, it’s like I don’t have to think or learn or be challenged in any way…

      1. Yes, clearly hearing someone and thinking that they more or less share your world means that you have forfeited thinking on your own…

        …that or someone else developed a roughly equivalent outlook on the world in parallel and you find it delightfully amusing to hear someone with your own non-conventional outlook on the world.

  6. Sometimes I see shows like The Addams Family or hear about Love Never Dies coming to Broadway or see excellent plays getting tiny audiences and I think “Broadway needs to be killed and stopped.”

    And then I hear about things like this and realize that only certain producers need to be stopped.

    Huzzah! Long live the Great White Way!

  7. I worry that they won’t be as vicious as the LDS Church actually deserves. The Mormon episode of South Park was a little bit conciliatory for my taste.

  8. apparently they shot much of Cannibal the musical on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder – An interesting thing to note about that campus (and one of the things that made me have respect for the town before I ended up living there for a year) – is that the school cafeteria is called the Alfred Packerd Grill… I rarely ate there – but it always gave me a smile whenever I passed through it on the way to class.

  9. I wonder if this kind of parody would be as accepted if you replaced “mormon” with “black” or “jew”, I’m just saying…

    1. I wonder if this kind of parody would be as accepted if you replaced “mormon” with “black” or “jew”, I’m just saying…

      You’ve never actually watched South Park, have you? Because the answer is yes.

    2. In addition to what Antinous says at 17, the CJCLDS is a political organization that does extreme evil and deliberately and knowingly spreads lies about me and mine. I don’t see why I should be shy about saying that I hate them and want to bring them down just because they hide behind the label of “religion,” or why I should pretend that their mythology isn’t based on the lies of a charlatan and con man (Joseph Smith) who just wanted to fuck more women.

  10. OK, what I said above isn’t totally fair.

    Joseph Smith ALSO wanted power and followers and to be able to run people’s lives. While fucking more women was a major reason he made up his whole tapestry of lies (which he was even too lazy to write down himself), he was also motivated by lust for power.

  11. Would a Ugandan ex-Mormon get free tickets…..can’t wait to see how this will turn out…..loved avenue q….

  12. I have to be honest, I am done with all religions. I wish this musical was more broad. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out.

  13. Joseph Smith was basically the 19th century L. Ron Hubbard. I take a dim view of all religions, but I can maybe accept that the founders of pre-Enlightenment religions were sincere (if misguided), as science and reason hadn’t yet come up with secular explanations for the natural world. But I don’t even for a second think Smith or Hubbard believed a word of what they were saying, and were basically con-men. Smith was the force behind the Kirtland Safety Society. Not exactly the sort of thing that a “holy man” would sully his hands with. Much like Hubbard’s many brushes with the law through tax scams, it’s pretty clear that money and power were Smith’s goal.

  14. They’ll blow a lot of insidery nuances like they did with “Orgazmo.” However sincerely devious they may be, they’ll come off looking a bit like sneering outsiders – a longstanding Matt and Trey flaw.

  15. Matt & Trey have made me laugh out loud in the past but this seems overly mean-spirited and ill advised. One of the great things about South Park in the past is that it skewered everyone equally. Taking on a single religion, any religion, like this won’t draw my dollars and really makes me think a bit less of the two.

  16. I saw the Mormonism episode. I had to admit they’d done their research well, and their interpretation of the history of Mormonism and Joseph Smith seemed totally understandable to me and it was funny (although I disagreed since I am a Mormon). Orgasmo was also based on Mormon missionaries. That movie pretty much sucked, but taking on Mormonism can obviously be funny. It’s very safe though, isn’t it?. They aren’t going to offend a lot of people or have bomb threats or picketing at the theatre. While I realize their goal is probably to entertain more than to provoke, I wonder if it crossed their minds to take on Judaism or Islam, or other religions or groups of thought in a musical? Seems a little like beating a dead horse and also a very safe choice.

    1. If only Mormonism really were a dead horse! That would be wonderful. Imagine a world where all Mormons realized that the whole thing was a scam, and that the CJCLDS had been an agent for impeding social progress and creating social injustice for its entire history, and quietly moved to other religions…and, most importantly, stopped giving money to support the bearing of false witness against their neighbors and the other reprehensible activities in which the Church engages.

      Oh, and leaving people who are perfectly happy with their religions the hell alone. Let’s not forget that.

      Alas, friend Anon, we don’t live in that world. In this less-happy one, the CJCLDS is still a force for irrationality and bigotry, and bringing it down is a just goal. Short of that, making fun of it is absolutely fair game.

      And yes, I would feel differently if Mormons weren’t so active in trying to deny civil rights (SECULAR civil rights!) to people like me.

  17. Xopher gleefully proclaims that, “I don’t see why I should be shy about saying that I hate them and want to bring them down.” Then goes on to slam Mormons for “bigotry.”

    I’m certain the irony is completely lost on him.

    Er, Mr. Kettle, I’d love for you to meet Mrs. Pot.


    1. I hate the Mormon Church, not Mormons. And I slammed the Mormon Church for bigotry, and Mormons for supporting it.

      I realize it’s to your advantage to conflate those, but it IS bullshit.

      The Mormon Church is an organization in the real world, and it’s only sacred and exempt from criticism to devout Mormons. I’m not one. It’s not bigoted for me to oppose it or want to bring it down, since it IS my openly-declared enemy.

      I want Mormons to leave it, not to suffer. Right after Prop 8, I saw some Mormon missionaries, and I had an urge to hit them; THAT was bigotry, and I worked against that. A friend helped me by pointing out that missionaries don’t get enough to eat, because the Church exploits them too; I was then able to see them as fellow victims, and now the urge I have is to feed them a good meal instead.

      1. Dear Xopher,

        It is clear that you feel quite strongly on the topic of Mormonism. Notice the words and phrases that you have carefully selected as you contemplate this group:

        “I hate them,” “enemy,” “bring it down,” “urge to hit them,” “worry [the musical] won’t be vicious [enough].”

        The imagery you create with these word-choices is not merely hateful, as you freely admit they are. The imagery is also violent.

        And herein is the sad irony. The major message of the post-Proposition 8 protests was, “Stop the H8.” And yet you have no actual, demonstrable interest in that notion.

        You are perfectly comfortable with your hate. You wish to share it and spread it. You are expending considerable effort to do so.

        The position of the Mormons, as I understand it, is that they are for the preservation of the traditional model of marriage.

        Factually, a majority of Californians and U.S. citizens hold identical views.

        LGBT-rights leaders proclaim tolerance and diversity, and claim ostensibly to promote love and acceptance. Then evangelists such as yourself go out and preach intolerance, compelled conformity, hatred and bigotry.

        The incongruity and disharmony in messaging could not be more stark. Unfortunately, you actually believe that your hate-speech advances your cause.

        No, my dear Xopher (love the nick BTW), the Mormons are not your enemy. That you have allowed hatred and animosity to fill your heart and mind and being – THAT is your real enemy.

  18. And being a smarmy hypocrite is yours. Let people read our respective posts and see if they come to the same conclusion you do. I contend that no one doing anything but the most hostile selective reading could conclude what you do.

    In fact I don’t believe you believe it yourself. One piece of evidence: the fact that you use “the Mormons” in your last paragraph. You’re still bullshitting by conflating Mormons with the CJCLDS.

    You’re now bearing false witness against ME. I guess that, by the standards of the leaders of the CJCLDS, that makes you a good Mormon—at the same time, I doubt most rank-and-file Mormons would agree. You will now pretend you didn’t hear that, or act as if I never said it, because you are not remotely attempting a real conversation; you are just trolling. Go away.

    1. Dear Xopher,

      Your suggestion is excellent. Let people read our respective posts and draw their own conclusions.

      In the meantime, you may want to re-read yours. Twice you have accused me of conflating Mormons with the LDS Church. Yet it is you that has done so indiscriminately, and that is precisely why I have been responding to you.

      In your post #18, you claim the Church is a political organization (a factual error), but then you go on to proclaim, “I don’t see why I should be shy about saying that I hate them and want to bring them down just because they hide behind the label of ‘religion,’ or why I should pretend that their mythology isn’t based on … lies.”

      “They,” “them,” and “their” are all plural personal pronouns. You were speaking of Mormons as people, and not the Church as an entity. Had you been referring to the Church, you would have said “it” and “its,” the singular neutral pronouns (as you did later in post 27).

      Therefore the only fair reading of your statement is that you hate Mormons, you want to bring Mormons down, and you think Mormons hide behind the label of religion. That is what you said. If that is not what you meant, you are free to retract.

      When you described your “urge to hit them [the missionaries],” you were not referring to the Church as an organization, but to actual human Mormons working as volunteers.

      In post 27 you affirm that you personally blame your adversarial emotions on the behaviors of Mormons as people, not the Church: “And yes, I would feel differently if Mormons weren’t so active in trying to deny civil rights.”

      It is you who has repeated conflated Mormons and the Church. It was only when I called you out in post 28 that you made your first attempt to differentiate in post 29.

      As you can see, my reading of your statements is neither hostile nor selective. My rebuttals have consistently focused on your statements aimed at Mormons as people, as well as on your irresponsibly inflammatory word choices.

      I stand by my critiques of your missives. Please note that at no point have I denigrated you as a person.

      So, how have you engaged me in “attempting a real conversation” as you put it? You’ve called me a smarmy, hypocritical, lying troll.

      So much for saving your wrath for the Church while refraining from attacking the people you claim not to hate.

      Conflate much?

  19. Ahhhhh, as a Survivor of a decade living behind the Zion Curtain, I am really looking forward to this! BUT – can it compare to the Salt Lake Acting Company’s annual romp through Mormonism entitled “Saturday’s Voyeur” ???? I guess we’ll see! I’m planning a special trip to NYC for this one!

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