Musical to Musical: Film School Nerds to Kings of Broadway
In 1992 if you had told Matt Stone and Trey Parker that they would someday be writing Broadway musicals they probably would have laughed in your face. Their highly successful The Book of Mormon has been playing to sold out crowds since its premiere in March 2011, and has quickly become the hottest show on Broadway.
This is not Stone and Parker’s first musical endeavor, however. The comedy powerhouse met while attending The University of Colorado: Boulder in 1992. They soon became friends and collaborators. They created their first feature length film in 1993 originally entitled Alfred Packer: The Musical. The musical is a dark satirical comedy that focuses on Packer. Packer was the first person in the United States to be tried for cannibalism after leading a party of gold miners on a trek from Utah to Colorado in 1873. The party was later found dead and partially eaten. As you can imagine the film wasn’t the box office smash they expected it to be. In fact, they had a very hard time finding a company to distribute it.
After being shot down by what seemed to be every film distribution company in America they were approached by Mr. Lloyd Kaufman. Kaufman is the founder of the legendary B movie distribution company Troma. Troma is responsible for such popular movies as: The Toxic Avenger, Blood Sucking Freaks, and Surf Nazis Must Die. Kaufman thought the movie was exactly the type of thing his company was looking for, and he was right. The title was then changed to Cannibal! The Musical. With a little hard work Stone and Parker had sold their first film, created their first musical, and launched a career that would prove to be very long and very lucrative.
The duo also created a few cartoon comedy shorts. There was one that preceded Cannibal entitled: Jesus vs Frosty, and another following it entitled: Jesus vs. Santa. These were the inspiration for their incredibly successful cartoon series South Park.
Since it’s debut in 1997 South Park has received four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. It also inspired a full length film entitled South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. The film is also a musical, and the song “Blame Canada” was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. Parker and Stone, who are no strangers to controversy, were able to stir things up with this nomination. All songs that are nominated are performed at The Oscars. However, this particular song contained a certain expletive that could not be broadcast on national television. This didn’t stop renowned comedian/actor Robin Williams from performing a censored version of the song while poking fun at the FCC for demanding that the song be censored.
This brings us to today. Stone and Parker, with the help of Robert Lopez (co-creator of the hit musical Avenue Q), have created a religious musical/satire unlike any other. After only a year, The Book of Mormon has already secured a spot in Broadway history. It has received nine Tony Awards, and the score also received a Grammy after hitting #3 on The Billboard Charts. The musical focuses on Mormon missionaries who are sent to Africa to spread the word of Joseph Smith as recorded in the sacred text of the same name: The Book of Mormon. They encounter problems when their message is overshadowed by everyday problems of the native people (i.e. famine and war).
The careers of two young film students have come full circle after 20 years and culminated in one of the most unique and fun experiences theater goers have been treated to in years..
The smash musical will be coming to Chicago for a 12 week run at the Bank of America Theatre starting in December 2012. The Book of Mormon tickets are sure to sell out fast. For access to premium seating for this once in a lifetime event, be sure to call your guy at Gold Coast Tickets.