A click Thursday morning on the 'Arts' button on NYTimes.com brought a pop-up Web ad for the religion-bashing musical The Book of Mormon – with high praise from...The New York Times. 'The Book of Mormon is the best musical of this century...The kind of newborn old-fashioned pleasure giving musical that our grandparents told us left them walking on air....It's Heaven on Broadway.'
This show's marketers have chopped the anti-religion notes out of Ben Brantley's March 25 review, which began:
This is to all the doubters and deniers out there, the ones who say that heaven on Broadway does not exist, that it's only some myth our ancestors dreamed up. I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived at the Eugene O'Neill Theater, the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air if not on water. So hie thee hence, nonbelievers (and believers too), to "The Book of Mormon," and feast upon its sweetness.
Now you should probably know that this collaboration between the creators of television's 'South Park' (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) and the composer of 'Avenue Q' (Robert Lopez) is also blasphemous, scurrilous and more foul-mouthed than David Mamet on a blue streak. But trust me when I tell you that its heart is as pure as that of a Rodgers and Hammerstein show.
But this Brantley phrase is not in the review: 'best musical of this century.' It can't be located in Nexis or on Google, except in promos. Did Brantley say it to someone on the street?
To see the cultural depths to which Broadway has sunk, look no further than the Times review of the Tony Awards broadcast on CBS by Patrick Healy:
Sunday's broadcast, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, featured a 'did they really say that?' comic opener that was edgier than usually seen at the staid ceremony — a song-and-dance number arguing that Broadway, with its con artists, Mormons and nuns this season, is 'not just for gays anymore.' And it ended with Chris Rock, a star of the nominated play 'The ____________ With a Hat,' suggesting before presenting the best musical prize that a 'Mormon' victory was a foregone conclusion. [The missing word of course is Mother...er, flunker.]
'This is such a waste of time,' Mr. Rock said about the buildup. 'It's like taking a hooker to dinner.'
Then there was host Neil Patrick Harris, who seemed to think it was light, charming humor to joke about Angela Lansbury's boobies:
Mr. Harris, the openly gay sitcom star, who won an Emmy hosting the Tonys in 2009, was in charge again, sweeping into the audience during the opening number to comment on the sexiness of various straight actors.
'Angela Lansbury, you're super hot — are those things real?' he said, hovering over the 85-year-old multiple Tony-winner. Mr. Harris soon moved on to Brooke Shields, who struggled with some of her lines — including a joke about one of Representative Anthony D. Weiner's tweets of indiscreet photos. (Apologizing for the flub later, she ended up swearing and had to be bleeped out.)