Michael Deeds: Boise musicals to get even more wicked in 2015

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comApril 18, 2014 

Shucks, "Wicked," why did the Morrison Center have to go and announce its 2014-15 season this week? (Because it's a well-timed marketing tactic, Einstein.)

The return of the hugely popular "Wizard of Oz" spinoff suddenly doesn't feel quite as earth-shattering - not when we're faced with the prospect of "The Book of Mormon" visiting Boise for eight shows in summer 2015.

Talk about wicked.

Created by the razor-tongued satirists behind cable TV's "South Park," this alternately delightful and blasphemous production is water-cooler fodder for any state with a sizable LDS population. A winner of nine Tony Awards, it tells the story of two blissfully unaware (OK, clueless) missionaries who are sent to an African village. In what I imagine as Eric Cartman's voice, the Morrison Center's press release warns that this Mormon-mocking musical "contains explicit language."

Ya think? Trey Parker and Matt Stone penned the comedy, with help from Robert Lopez, the guy who co-wrote ditties for the profane, Tony-winning puppet show "Avenue Q."

Plenty of critics adore "The Book of Mormon." Entertainment Weekly described it as "R-rated, hilarious, humane," and "an exhilarating Broadway musical at once revolutionary and classic, funny and obscene, uncompromising in production standards and unafraid of just about anything else."

The LDS Church feels differently, of course. Shrewdly, it has treated the tour as an outreach opportunity. Church-purchased ads in theater programs have included happy-looking folks with quotes such as "The book is always better."

I wanted to know what kind of reaction organizers might expect in Boise. Morrison Center Executive Director James Patrick says he can't talk about "The Book of Mormon," with the exception of general comments in the news release and standard speaking points provided by the show for the box office. (Frustratingly, this is common industry practice.) He referred me to Salt Lake City-based promoter MagicSpace Entertainment: "We have no comment and no one is available for interview," Marketing Director Kathy Lustica emailed me promptly.

Alrighty.

The silent treatment is deliciously ironic in this instance, considering that this is the first Broadway musical from Parker and Stone, who aren't chicken to say anything to anyone. Remember when "South Park" put Tom Cruise in that closet and skewered Scientology?

Whatever. We don't need rehearsed quotes from organizers to grasp what this musical means to a community like ours, or to Salt Lake City, where it will spend two weeks after its Boise visit. Just check out the 380-plus reader comments at the Salt Lake Tribune's website.

Reader reviews of "The Book of Mormon" at The New York Times' website are equally enlightening. People don't seem to have any rating besides one star or five stars.

I know a potential Morrison Center sellout run when I see it. Buy tickets quickly if you want a seat. And don't forget to save a few bucks for the merch booth and that official Mormon-teasing tote bag, which reads, "You simply won't believe how much this bag will change your life!"

A life changer? Unless you're the Boston college student who converted to Mormonism after seeing this musical (true story!), I wouldn't expect that from "The Book of Mormon." But I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to it, and Boise's reaction.

ENTERTAINMENT NOTES

• Concert updates: The summer music series at Reid W. Merrill Sr. Community Park in Eagle is solidifying. Tickets to Pat Metheny Unity Group/Bruce Hornsby (July 22) and Trace Adkins (July 24) go on sale April 25 at Ticketfly for $45 lawn, $65 reserved seat. ... Night Ranger (rawk!) will open for Boston on Sept. 3 at the Idaho Center's Ford Amphitheater. ... Speaking of acts with the original guitarist and some replacement dudes, seminal punk band Black Flag will play July 27 at the Knitting Factory. If I hadn't seen the classic Henry Rollins lineup as a kid in '86, I'd almost want to go.

• Comedian Hannibal Buress ("30 Rock") will gig May 9-10 at Liquid Laughs ($25, liquidlaughs.com).

• Liquid Laughs' comedy booker, Jen Adams, is the new morning co-host on Kissin' 92.3 FM.

• Longtime Boise radio host Jon Duane died April 11 after a two-year battle with cancer. KIDO 580 AM program director Dave Burnett described Duane as "a broadcasting legend" and "a lover of people." More at IdahoStatesman.com.

Michael Deeds' column runs Fridays in Scene and every other Sunday in Life.

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