The Book of Mormon may leave you in hysterics or offend you on levels you never imagined possible

Award-winning musical in Denver through Nov. 24

DENVER - Even if you think you know what to expect from Matt Stone and Trey Parker, you may be stunned by the Book of Mormon. The disclaimer that the play contains explicit language doesn't even begin to cover it.

The opening number "Hello!" is adorable. It sums up every positive stereotype you've ever had about Mormons. The men at the missionary training center are endlessly enthusiastic and pricelessly naïve. Enter Elder Cunningham -- the happy sidekick -- who is not just naïve but ridiculously awkward. It feels like Broadway as usual.

Then it takes a hair-pin curve into the land of brutally dark humor when a pair of hopeful missionaries is sent to Uganda. They quickly realize Africa is nothing like the Lion King, and "Hasa Diga Eebowai" does NOT mean "no worries."

This is where I covered my mouth with my hands in shock and laughed until I cried. The people to my right were not nearly as amused.

The culture shock continues as Elder Price and Elder Cunningham realize their standard protocol for dealing with unpleasant feelings -- "Turn it Off" -- isn't going to work on people who have maggots in their scrotums.

When Elder Price questions his personal mission, Elder Cunningham is forced to "Man Up" and teach the natives himself. But to keep their attention, he takes creative liberties with "part three of the Biblical trilogy." The results are something you will have to see for yourself -- if you have an extremely high tolerance for sacrilege.

The people sitting behind me left at intermission. I can understand how some people might have a hard time seeing past the shocking presentation to the positive message of the play.

While the play's overriding theme is that religion in general is ridiculous, the real moral is that people can do incredible good -- whether their beliefs are true or not.

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