TONY Tony Countdown: Talking with Casey Nicholaw of The Book of Mormon

Photograph by Joan Marcus

We recently spoke with ace director Casey Nicholaw—who staged the blisteringly funny Book of Mormon with Trey Parker—to discuss faith, faithlessness and the boundaries of good taste.

Time Out New York: Why haven't the Mormons rioted over your show?
Casey Nicholaw: I don't know, but I'm glad they haven't! I think it's because the message ultimately is sweet and pro-faith, and the church has gone on record saying, "Sure, it's not a family show, but they've certainly done their homework and have poked fun in the way anyone would poke fun at different groups. But its not mean-spirited in the least." They even said that it's sweet. If you were to read some of the songs out of context, you might go like, "What the hell is this?" But nobody was prepared for the context of the show and the story behind it, and I think that has made a big difference. That's what all of us love doing: making people laugh and then going, "Wait a minute, when did I get tears in my eyes? How did that happen?"

What's in it for the atheists, then?

Good question! I guess some of the words in the African number, "Hasa Diga Eebowai."

See, though, you first have to believe in God to tell Him to fuck off. What did you do in rehearsal that was too offensive to keep in the show?
Nothing really sticks out in my mind. I think we've gotten away with pretty much everything that we wanted to get away with. There was nobody saying, "You can't go that far!" about anything. So if we did push the boundaries, it was pushing the boundaries of what the show itself could take. If it didn't feel right, if we were stepping out of the actual show, it got cut. Not just because we didn't want to go that far, but because the material didn't warrant it.

Check out more TONY Tony coverage here.