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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Since the 1990s, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made their buck throwing everything from the sacred to the unmentionable under the comedic bus. They have taken on topics ranging from Scientology to the Shake Weight and everything else in between.

Now they’re taking one of their favorite punching bags to Broadway.

In a phone conference with college reporters Monday, Parker and Stone, known mostly for their work as the creators of “South Park,” discussed their latest work, a Broadway musical about Mormon missionaries.

“The Book of Mormon,” which is set to premiere Thursday, tells an outlandish story of two missionaries who are sent to Uganda to spread their message.

Unlike one of their episodes, which they said they create in a week’s time, the musical has been in the works for seven years. Putting on a musical that goes on for more than two hours presents a completely different challenge than producing a 22-minute episode

“A five-paragraph essay is completely different from the book,” Stone said.

The topic is not an unfamiliar one for the duo. Growing up in Colorado, the two interacted with Mormons on a frequent basis. They have also done a “South Park” episode that pokes fun at the church, using a jingle throughout the episode to lampoon Joseph Smith, the church’s founder who Mormons believe interacted with God and Jesus Christ.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has been mostly tight-lipped on the matter, has issued a brief statement addressing the musical.

“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening,” the statement reads, “but the Book of Mormon as a volume of Scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

Despite the musical’s irreverent tone, Parker and Stone said their fascination with Mormonism isn’t grounded in any spite, calling members of the church “super nice.” They said they don’t expect devout Mormons to come, but said many practicing Mormons will enjoy the show, noting that some of the positive feedback they have received at sneak-peek performances has come from Mormons.

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