Look out Aussies! The multi-award winning musical The Book of Mormon is going down under.

The show has its Australian premiere in Melbourne today–Jan. 18, 2017. It is expected that this will most likely be followed by a tour of the country. The State Premier, Daniel Andrews, previously announced the news on his Facebook page, saying “I’m thrilled we’re bringing the most successful piece of theatre in the world today to Victoria.”

The Australian production will be co-directed by the original creative team of Tray Parker and choreographer Casey Nicholaw.

The Book of Mormon opened on Broadway in 2011 at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. A London production swiftly followed opening at the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre in 2013. This blockbuster show that scooped a staggering nine Tony and four Olivier Awards sold out for an impressive 180 weeks in a row on Broadway and has broken countless box office records. With excitement already building for this most hotly anticipated of musicals The Book of Mormon’s reign of glory looks set to continue.

Similar to New York and London, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have a large presence in Melbourne to welcome the attention to their faith.

The Church has launched an initiative helping people understand how the book itself has helped change lives for the better. What’s inside the Book of Mormon? shows people that the Book of Mormon is much more than a musical—it’s a way to find comfort, guidance, and direction in life. The hashtag is #DiscoverWhatsInside.

The initiative helps people in Australia learn from fellow Aussies (who are Mormon) how the stories, teachings, and principles found throughout the Book of Mormon can help us all find peace and happiness in life.

Shaun Micallef, an Australian journalist that hosts a television show titled “Stairway To Heaven,” recently covered the topic of “Mormons.”

mormon.org.au #DiscoverWhatsInside Mormon

Synopsis for the episode:
Comedian and writer Shaun Micallef is on a quest to find the very meaning of life itself. Envious of those with “unshakeable faith,” Shaun journeys across the globe immersing himself into some of the world’s most unique religions and beliefs. In this episode, Shaun starts his spiritual adventure with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In their heartland of Salt Lake City, Utah, Shaun eats, prays and lives with the Mormons through privileged access. He works with young missionary Mormons sent off to the jungles of Fiji, and bunks in with breakaway fundamentalist polygamists in the deserts of Utah. Shaun wants to understand this devout faith so entwined with the development of the USA, and centered around the remarkable contents of the Book of Mormon.

You can watch the episode online here: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/847588931862/Shaun-Micallef-Stairway-To-Heaven-S2-Ep1-Mormons

Twitter is also getting behind the effort:

You can learn more at www.mormon.org.au


More press from ABC in Australia!

The Book of Mormon: An Opportunity to Set the Record Straight

Robert Dudfield ABC Religion and Ethics 24 Jan 2017

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has chosen not to take offence or campaign against the musical, but to recognise the opportunity it presents to witness to our Christian faith. Credit: Paul Zimmerman / WireImage

Robert Dudfield is an Elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Melbourne, and National Director of its public affairs office.

Mormons are the talk of the town in Melbourne at the moment, with the opening of The Book of Mormon musical and a lively response by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as the Mormons are officially called).

The Church has taken out advertising at Southern Cross station from Monday as part of a media campaign to provide a more genuine understanding of the faith and to counteract the confronting messages portrayed by the musical.

There will be giant banners with Australian Mormons, and steps decorated with themes and messages from the actual Book of Mormon, as part of a riot of colour and good cheer.

There will also be displays elsewhere throughout the city, including large posters near Flinders Street Station.

The campaign also features television advertisements, already begun, and a wide social media presence in which real Mormons talk about their faith and how the real Book of Mormon – which stands alongside the Bible as the Church’s sacred text – has shaped their lives. These inspiring and genuine stories range from ordinary people to the famous, like rugby league star Will Hopoate, Broadway performer Patrice Tipoki and Australian Ballet rising star Jake Mangakahia, all of whose lives have been enriched.

In Melbourne, the musical seems set to follow the huge international success it has had in the United States and London. As a form of entertainment, it is obviously popular. And yet its depiction of two young men who serve as Latter-day Saint missionaries in Uganda does not reflect real missionaries, while many of the themes – from female genital mutilation to raping infants – and some of the language are highly confronting.

Religious responses to such provocation over the years have often been defensive: to bunker down, complain and even try to close the production down. But the Church has chosen not to take offence or campaign against the musical. Instead, we recognise that its success offers us an unparalleled opportunity to witness to the enormous contribution our Christian faith makes to the lives of our members and to the wider community.

The benefit is not only to correct the record for non-members. There is also a blessing inside the Church because public discussion will spur our members to dig deeper into their own tradition and theology, and embolden them to speak up about their faith as opportunities arise.

At a time when religious identification and understanding in general is in decline in the West, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not often so prominent in the public consciousness as it will be for the next couple of months. Our aim is to ensure that this recognition does indeed come about – but for the right reasons, not in the perpetuation of myths and misconceptions.

People come away from the show intrigued about the faith and with many questions. They recognise that the musical is mainly a form of entertainment, and they may well wonder how accurately it portrays the Church.

The resemblance is at best superficial. The young missionaries are portrayed as naive, brainwashed and without a strong moral compass to stand against the difficulties they encounter. The truth is very different: the Church is immensely proud of the selfless and dedicated young men and women who put careers and study on hold to serve the wider community for two years in the mission field.

Usually they save for years so they can fund their time of service, involving themselves in local communities and sharing messages of hope, of direction and love made possible by Jesus Christ. They find it a rewarding and deeply spiritual experience as they seek to emulate Jesus in their service. Such was my own experience when I had the privilege to put a career on hold and serve as a missionary for two years.

There are two other myths the Church hopes to address. First, and most importantly, it hopes to rebut the idea that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a Christian faith. Some people believe that Mormons do not worship Jesus Christ but instead worship Joseph Smith, the man who led the Latter-day Saints when the Church was organised in 1830. Yes, the Church does revere Joseph Smith as a prophet – as it does the leader today, Thomas Monson, the 16th president of the Church – but we worship only God our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, his son, through whom is offered salvation and reconciliation with God.

We study and revere, as canonical Scripture, the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and put the Book of Mormon alongside them as a third Testament of Jesus Christ. In its 531 pages, there is a reference to Jesus on average once every 1.7 verses.

The second misconception, which is kept alive mainly by mainstream media, is that Mormons practice polygamy or plural marriage. It is true that some members and leaders engaged in plural marriage in the first generation, but for the vast majority of its history – since 1890 – the Church has strictly prohibited the practice and advocacy of polygamy.

There are still groups and individuals in and around the U.S. state of Utah – the longstanding home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – who do engage in plural marriage. These groups can confuse observers because they often call themselves Mormon, but such people have no affiliation at all with the official Church.

Family – and particularly the nuclear family of parents and their children – is at the heart of society and of the Christian Church, the basic building block and guarantee of a civilised society, and nowhere more so than among the Latter-day Saints. We emphasise the importance of family and work hard to support and sustain the family unit, including reserving every Monday night for “family home evening,” in which the family talks together, shares spiritual experiences together and learn how to communicate openly between parents and children.

Like all Christian churches, we also stress the importance of community service, welfare and humanitarian support, and run one of the largest women’s organisations in the world, the Relief Society, founded by Joseph Smith in 1842 to help those in need.

So we have reason to thank those behind the musical for the opportunities they have given us. It may not have been their motive but, as the Apostle Paul notes in his letter to the Romans in the New Testament, God is accustomed to working things together for good!

Robert Dudfield is an Elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Melbourne, and National Director of its public affairs office.