I don't have time to do a full post but I saw it in Philly tonight. It was awesome. I'm not sure the audience got all the jokes, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a Jew who has a bad case of Mormon envy, it celebrated everything I love about the Latter-day Saint community. And the LDS church had three full page ads in the Playbill (including one whose tagline was "the Book is always better") which strikes me as an appropriate response.
The play nails a lot about the Mormon church: the centrality of faith, the importance of doing a mission, and how (for lack of a better term) gay the whole Mormon thing is. For those of you who may not be conversant with Mormon culture, it's been deeply immersed in show tunes for a long time. The first building in Salt Lake was the Temple. The second was a theater. And there's a reason that half the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance come from the Great Basin Kingdom (and that's why they now have auditions in Salt Lake City, since season 2). And High School Musical was shot in St. George, Utah because they could find a lot of dancers there. Hell, no less than Orson Scott Card once wrote a screed against basketball and in favor of musicals as an appropriate youth activity. (You gotta scroll down to read it). And then there's the homosociality of the mission experience itself which is something like the theme song of Two and a Half Men (whose only words are "Men, Men, Men, Men, Men"). Certain parts of gay culture and certain parts of Mormon culture are congruent. Which freaks both sides out, I think.
With school starting next week, it will probably be school blogging for the upcoming months but I wanted to get this out tonight .