The Book of Mormon’s cast recording album was almost as big a hit as the musical itself when it was released in May 2011. It became iTunes fastest-selling Broadway cast album on its release and vaulted to number 3 on the Billboard charts after its Tony wins the following month. That distinction made it the first Broadway cast album to deliver a top 10 placement since Hair in 1969. Needless to say, the public loved the music that dressed the musical.
In the liner notes Frank Rich says that the songs from The Book of Mormon “scrupulously follows the old testament of Broadway circa 1945–1965, A.D., even while fondly spoofing it”. Lots of songs from the musical parody the Broadway classics so we thought we’d dig around to connect the songs with their Broadway fore fathers.
The BroadwayWorld.com forum had a lively discussion on the matter, chiming in on the subject matter with their own list of recognizable songs. Contributor henryt mentioned that the song “Hasa Diga Eebowai” is a reference to The Lion King’s “Hakuna Matata.” Contributor Haprz2006 shared his view saying that the beginning of “I Believe” is a parody of The Sound of Music’s “I Have Confidence.” He also added that “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” is similar to The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World” and Little Shop of Horrors “Somewhere That’s Green.” Meanwhile, user aasjb4ever had this to share, “Price’s final “MEEEEEEEEE” in You and Me (But Mostly Me) is a refer-off of Elphaba’s “It’s MEEEEEEE!!!” in Wicked, complete with lights focused on him and then exploding outwards (anyone who has seen it knows what i mean).”
Users on Quora also tried to piece together the Broadway parodies from the songs of The Book of Mormon. One contributor, Brooke Schreier Ganz, was very detailed in her analysis on the subject. She starts by saying that the song “You and Me But Mostly Me” is “very much in the musical and thematic style of the song “The Wizard and I” from the show “Wicked”. This is what you would call the first big “I Want” song of the show where one of the main characters lays out their self-perception and their desires that will later be challenged by the events in the show.” She goes on to mention other instances such as the horns used at the beginning of the finale for “I Am a Latter Day Saint” as a direct reference to the finale song “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from the show Hairspray. She also added that the song “Joseph Smith American Moses” has a “few sections referencing the Afrobeat music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the subject of the recent Broadway musical Fela!
Other songs mentioned include bits from Elder Price’s “Orlando” which favor “Tomorrow” from Annie, as well as parts of “You’re Making Things Up Again” which allude to parts of “Putting it Together” from Sunday in the Park with George. Even a less than popular opinion was shared that “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” is based off of “Carpe Noctem” from Tanz Der Vampire/Dance of The Vampires.
And while most people who gave their insight appeared to enjoy the idea of these Broadway references they could spot in the musical, a BroadwayWorld.com user by the name of CockeyedOptimist2 seemed to agree with another user in the forum that the “parodies” so to speak were more like rip offs. Though the originator of that statement, user iflipformusicals, confessed that he isn’t partial to parodies at all.
Whether you like the practice or not, it is obvious that many such parodies exist in the production and that some, if not all, exist for a specific reason. Ultimately, the songs used and their numerous references enhance the production and help support the overall satirical nature the show is intended to covey.
Author: Diamond Grant