Everything you need to know about 'The Book of Mormon' on Broadway
Say hello to one of Broadway's most popular musical comedies, which has been running for more than 10 years.
Hello! Join the congregation at The Book of Mormon, the hit musical comedy that's been converting audiences into devout musical theatre fans since 2011. You might not think that the creators of the adult animated TV series South Park and the musical Avenue Q would be the natural team behind a musical about religion, but it turns out that Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez were a match made in musical theatre heaven.
Though The Book of Mormon is about Mormonism, the musical is as irreverent as the creators' other projects, satirizing religion among a host of other topics. The plot revolves around two inexperienced Mormon missionaries who are sent to convert the residents of a Ugandan village, which proves a difficult task. In a rare move for a musical, The Book of Mormon premiered directly Broadway — and the move paid off, as the show won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Consider this article your sacred text about all things The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Read on to learn about the show's plot, history, songs, and how Star Wars characters factor into it all.
What is The Book of Mormon about?
The Book of Mormon centers on two Mormon elders in training to be missionaries. Elder Kevin Price has dreams of changing the world with his work, so he's excited to be sent on a two-year mission, which he hopes will be in Orlando, Florida. However, he is instead sent to a remote village in Uganda to convert its residents. He's even less excited to discover that he'll have to share whatever glory he gets with Elder Arnold Cunningham, another missionary-in-training that's assigned to go with him.
Upon arriving in Uganda, they discover from a local tribal leader, Mafala Hatimbi, that the village is in awful condition, is wracked by AIDS, and is ruled by an oppressive General. The townspeople, angry at their situation, had forsaken God long ago and aren't easy converts. On top of it all, Price and Cunningham can't get along, making their job even harder. Price even abandons him at one point, leaving Cunningham, who's stayed in Price's shadow the whole trip, room to step up. With the help of Nabulungi, Hatimbi's optimistic daughter who believes in the Mormons' word, the villagers eventually start to listen to him. He mixes religious teachings with stories from science fiction and fantasy, like Star Wars, but he gets the message across all the same.
Where is The Book of Mormon playing?
The Book of Mormon is at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, located at 230 West 49th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. The theatre is named for legendary American playwright Eugene O'Neill, who has won more Pulitzer Prizes (four) than any other writer and whose play Long Day's Journey into Night is oft-regarded as the best American play of the 20th century.
How long is The Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon runs 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission. This is a standard running time for a Broadway musical; most tend to run between two and three hours long, with either a 15- or 20-minute intermission between Acts 1 and 2.
What days is The Book of Mormon playing?
The Book of Mormon plays eight performances a week at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. The show typically runs Tuesday to Sunday, with two performances on Saturdays and Sundays. The Book of Mormon does not perform on Monday. For the complete performance schedule and up-to-date weekly show times, please visit the The Book of Mormon page to learn more.
When did The Book of Mormon premiere?
The Book of Mormon made its Broadway debut in 2011, but the show was in the works for years before then. Discover how the hit musical came to be as we know it today, from its early inception in 2003 to its post-pandemic reopening in 2021.
- 2003: Trey Parker and Matt Stone see Avenue Q on Broadway and run into the musical's creators, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, while there. Over post-show drinks, they discovered that all four wanted to incorporate Mormonism founder Joseph Smith into a script, so they started developing initial ideas that would become The Book of Mormon.
- 2006: After a few years of research and tossing around ideas, Parker, Stone, and Lopez spent three weeks in London and wrote the basic plot and the first few songs for The Book of Mormon. Marx left the project that year after a dispute with Lopez.
- 2008: The Book of Mormon has its first reading. Even though only six songs and most of the first act were written, Lopez wanted to see early on whether their material had potential. It did, and five more readings and workshops followed to further refine the show. The first reading was also the first time original Broadway cast member Josh Gad played the role of Elder Cunningham.
- 2010: The Book of Mormon is scheduled to have an Off-Broadway tryout in summer 2010 before the show was to move to Broadway. However, months beforehand, producer Scott Rudin suddenly canceled the run to give the creators more uninterrupted time to work out the remaining kinks, and decided to premiere the show directly on Broadway instead.
- 2011: The Book of Mormon premieres on Broadway. The show was a critical hit and received 9 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, out of 14 nominations. Andrew Rannells starred as Elder Price alongside Gad as Cunningham, and Nikki M. James won a Tony for her portrayal of Nabulungi.
- 2012: The Book of Mormon begins its first national tour, starring Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner as Price and Cunningham, respectively.
- 2013: The Book of Mormon opens in London's West End, with Creel and Gertner reprising their roles. In addition, the second national tour launches in the U.S. Nic Rouleau and Ben Platt were meant to star, but they both transferred to the Broadway production instead.
- 2017: The original Australian production of The Book of Mormon opens, breaking box office records before opening and winning multiple Helpmann Awards (the Australian equivalent of the Tonys).
- 2021: The Book of Mormon reopens on Broadway after shutting down alongside the rest of the industry amid the pandemic. During the hiatus, the show's script was revised to center and deepen the Ugandan characters, especially Nabulungi; clarify satirical points; and remove "white savoirist" depictions of the Mormon missionaries.
Who wrote The Book of Mormon?
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matthew Stone collaborated on the book, music, and lyrics for The Book of Mormon. Parker and Stone are the co-creators of the animated series South Park, and Lopez co-wrote the score for the Avenue Q musical, both of which employ a similar brand of politically incorrect, flippant brand of comedy as The Book of Mormon. Parker and Stone teamed up with Lopez after seeing Avenue Q.
Lopez has a unique distinction: He is one of only 16 EGOT winners, or people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Lopez is also the youngest person to achieve the status (he did so at 39), the person who did so the fastest (within 10 years), and the only person to ever "double EGOT," or win each of the four awards twice. (He is actually one Oscar away from a triple EGOT.) Besides The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q, he is known for co-writing songs for the Disney films Frozen, Frozen II, and Coco.
Parker and Stone are each an Oscar away from reaching EGOT status. The two were nominated for an Oscar for writing the song "Blame Canada" for the South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut movie based on their TV series.
The Book of Mormon characters
The main characters in The Book of Mormon include the Mormon missionaries and the residents of the Ugandan village they're sent to convert. Here are the main characters in The Book of Mormon along with notable people who have played them.
- Elder Kevin Price: A devout missionary in training. He wants to be sent on a two-year mission to Orlando, Florida, but is sent to Uganda instead with Elder Cunningham. He resents Cunningham and wants the glory of success for himself.
- Elder Arnold Cunningham: A missionary in training assigned to Uganda with Price. He's insecure, so he resolves to follow Price around and act merely as his sidekick. However, his way of teaching of the Book of Mormon — even though it's not all accurate — ends up resonating with the Ugandan people.
- Elder McKinley: Another Mormon missionary and the district leader of the Ugandan area. He's in charge of Price, Cunningham, and all the other missionaries assigned to the Ugandan village, who have all been unsuccessful in their conversion efforts. He tries to repress his homosexuality and suffers from regular nightmares, but he teaches the other Mormons that they can just "turn off" their negative thoughts.
- Nabulungi: The daughter of Hatimbi. She's outspoken and bold, and she is inspired by the missionaries' message. She convinces the others to listen to them and rise up against the General.
- Mafala Hatimbi: A member of the Ugandan tribe, who welcomes the missionaries to the village. He is very protective of Nabulungi, his daughter, and wants to keep her hidden away for her safety.
- General: A Ugandan warlord who rules the village that the Elders are sent to convert. He rules with an iron fist and imposes oft-oppressive rules, and the villagers will not convert out of fear of his reaction. His character's full name is General Butt Fucking Naked.
- Joseph Smith: The founder of the Mormon church, whose story is dramatized in the song "All-American Prophet." The actor who plays Smith also plays Jesus, Elder Price's dad, and the elders' mission president.
The Book of Mormon songs
The songs in The Book of Mormon are mostly upbeat musical theatre-style showtunes, and most are at least somewhat comedic (and irreverent). The opening number, "Hello," is one of the show's most famous songs, along with "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" and "I Believe." Here are all the songs in The Book of Mormon.
- "Hello" – Mormons
- "Two by Two" – Price, Mormons
- "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" – Price, Cunningham
- "Hasa Diga Eebowai" – Mafala, Price, Cunningham, and Ugandans
- "Turn It Off" – McKinley, Mormons
- "I Am Here for You" – Cunningham, Price
- "All American Prophet" – Price, Cunningham, Joseph Smith, Angel Moroni and Company
- "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" – Nabulungi
- "I Am Here for You" (Reprise) – Cunningham
- "Man Up" – Cunningham, Nabulungi, Price, Doctor, Company
- "Making Things Up Again" – Cunningham, Cunningham's Dad, Joseph Smith, Mormon, Moroni, Uhura, Darth Vader, Hobbits, Ugandans
- "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" – Price, Lucifer, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnnie Cochran, Ensemble
- "I Believe" – Price, Ensemble
- "Baptize Me" – Cunningham and Nabulungi
- "I Am Africa" – McKinley, Cunningham, Doctor, Mormons
- "Joseph Smith American Moses" – Ugandans
- "Hasa Diga Eebowai" (Reprise) – Nabulungi
- "You and Me (But Mostly Me)" (Reprise) – Price and Cunningham
- "Tomorrow Is a Latter Day" – Price, Cunningham, McKinley, Nabulungi, Company
- "Hello" (Reprise) – Company
- "Encore" – Company
What awards has The Book of Mormon won?
The Book of Mormon may be irreverent, but the musical's various productions were revered by awards committees all over the world. Here are the prizes The Book of Mormon has won, which include three Best Musical nods, at major awards ceremonies in multiple countries.
- Tony Awards: The Book of Mormon swept the 2011 ceremony, receiving 9 Tony Awards out of 14 nominations. The categories it won include: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Featured Actress in a Musical (for Nikki M. James), Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Sound Design.
- Drama Desk Awards: Also in 2011, received 12 Drama Desk nominations and won five: Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Lyrics, Outstanding Music, Outstanding Director of a Musical, and Outstanding Orchestrations.
- Grammy Awards: The Book of Mormon won the 2012 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
- Olivier Awards: The Book of Mormon in London won four awards of its six Olivier nominations in 2014: Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (for Gavin Creel), Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (for Stephen Ashfield), and Best Theatre Choreographer (for Casey Nicholaw).
- Helpmann Awards: The Australian production of The Book of Mormon received two awards: Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical. The show got six additional nominations.
Major productions of The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon hasn't traveled to Uganda like its characters yet, but the show has traveled far and wide across North America, Europe, and Australia to success. Here are the major productions of The Book of Mormon around the world.
- 2011 Broadway production: Besides a 2008 staged reading, the Broadway premiere was the first full-fledged production of The Book of Mormon. The show was originally meant to debut off Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, but the run was canceled. The Broadway production won nine Tonys, including Best Musical, and is still running today.
- 2012 U.S. national tour: The first national tour of The Book of Mormon ran from 2012 to 2016, beginning in Denver, Colorado and ending in Honolulu, Hawaii. In July 2015, one of the stops was Salt Lake City, Utah, marking the first time The Book of Mormon would be performed there.
- 2012 Chicago production: The Chicago production was the first iteration of The Book of Mormon besides the Broadway one and its national tour. Nic Rouleau and Ben Platt starred. The pair were supposed to lead the second U.S. national tour when the Chicago run ended, but they ended up moving to the Broadway production instead.
- 2013 West End production: The Book of Mormon received four Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, after opening at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London's West End. That production is still running.
- 2017 Australian production: The Book of Mormon at Melbourne's Princess Theatre debuted in January 2017, but advertisements went out beginning in January 2016. The musical became the theatre's highest-selling show in its history and won two Helpmann Awards, including Best Musical. The production toured multiple Australian cities before closing in 2020.
- 2017 Swedish production: When The Book of Mormon hit the Chinateatern in Stockholm, Sweden, it was the first production of the musical to be performed in a non-English language.
Celebrities who have appeared in The Book of Mormon
Multiple celebrities stepped into the Mormon missionaries' dress shoes early on in their careers and have since skyrocketed to widespread stage and screen fame. Learn more about the celebrities who got their starts in The Book of Mormon and the other projects you might recognize them from.
- Andrew Rannells: Rannells played Elder Price in the original Broadway production of The Book of Mormon. He received a Tony nomination for his performance, and a second for playing Whizzer in the 2016 Broadway revival of Falsettos. He's also a screen actor known for playing Elijah on Girls and starring on the series The New Normal and Black Monday.
- Josh Gad: Besides his Tony-nominated role as the original Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon, Gad is best known for voicing the snowman Olaf in Disney's Frozen and Frozen II films. He also played Le Fou in Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast and has appeared on shows like Modern Family and New Girl.
- Ben Platt: Platt first played the role of Elder Cunningham in the Chicago production of The Book of Mormon and later reprised the role on Broadway. He's best known, though, for his Tony-winning performance in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, a role he reprised in the 2021 film adaptation; his Golden Globe-nominated role as Payton Hobart on The Politician; and as Benji Applebaum in the first two Pitch Perfect films.
Fun facts about The Book of Mormon
Did you know that The Book of Mormon was almost a film and that Act 1 almost had a wildly different ending? Find out these and more fun facts about The Book of Mormon below.
- Early on in developing The Book of Mormon, Parker, Stone, Lopez, and Marx traveled to Salt Lake City to interview Mormon missionaries and ex-missionaries as research. The characters sing about the city often during the show, and famous Salt Lake City buildings, like the Salt Lake Temple and Crown Burger, are incorporated into the set.
- Parker and Stone, having the most experience in TV and film, initially envisioned the story of The Book of Mormon as a film centered on Joseph Smith. Lopez vouched for it to be a musical from the start, and though Parker and Stone were hesitant, they eventually agreed after seeing a live audience interact with the material at the first developmental reading.
- Early drafts of The Book of Mormon were a lot darker than the end result. Act 1 was originally supposed to end with the General killing Elder Price! The show's creators, with the support of producer Scott Rudin, decided that killing the main character wouldn't work in a musical comedy.
- The character of General Butt Fucking Naked is loosely based on two real-life African warlords. His violent characterization is taken from Joseph Kony, the founder of a Christian fundamentalist group in Uganda. His name takes after Joshua Milton Blahyi, a Liberian former warlord whose alias was General Butt Naked.
- The Mormon church wasn't a fan of the musical at first, but years into the show's Broadway run, the church purchased ad space in the Book of Mormon program to actually promote the church.
- An eclectic mix of figures from pop culture and history, real and fictional, appears in The Book of Mormon. They include Jesus, Satan, Genghis Khan, Jeffrey Dahmer, Adolf Hitler, Johnnie Cochran, Joseph Smith, Lt. Uhura, Darth Vader, Yoda, and more.
- Two of The Book of Mormon's original cast members — Andrew Rannells and Rory O'Malley — would eventually go on to play the same role in a different show: King George in Hamilton.
How to get The Book of Mormon tickets
The Book of Mormon may not be church-approved, but with catchy songs and plenty of laughs, the musical is heaven-sent. Adults looking for a divinely funny theatre experience will enjoy The Book of Mormon, whether they go one by one or two by two.