‘The Book of Mormon’ Returns to Hollywood Pantages

When you’ve been as successful at something for as long as Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been at “South Park,” you’re likely faced with something of a dilemma. What you’ve been working on works. It’s wildly popular and critically acclaimed. You have awards for what you do, and you’ve been doing it so long that you have it down to a science.

And yet for every creative person, the need to push boundaries, to make something new is inescapable. “Team America: World Police” was well received, but to many still feels like a long-form version of a “South Park” episode. But if you want to really step out of the box the world has put you in for the first time and you fall? That’s a fall you might never get up from.

Parker and Stone are nothing if not fearless, and we should be glad that they are. If nothing else, it’s their fearlessness that gave us the Tony winning musical “The Book of Mormon,” returning to the Pantages Theater for an early summer run.

The Book of Mormon” follows Elder Kevin Price and Elder Arnold Cunningham, two young Mormon missionaries about to be sent out into the world for their two-year stint preaching the gospel of their religion. Price is good-looking, devout and smug. Cunningham is an insecure nerd, and Price wants nothing to do with him. When they find themselves in AIDS-ridden, Warlord-ruled Uganda for their assignment, they are forced to examine their religion and the meaning of faith when tested by the brutal reality of their African environment.

Yes, that premise sounds deeply dark and depressing, but these are the “South Park” guys. A musical may be outside their normal wheelhouse, but at the end of the day, dark comedy is their stock and trade, usually with a ray of light at the end to make you realize that things aren’t all that bad: Even to the most cynical of all of us, there’s something to be said for faith.

The Book of Mormon” takes the Hollywood Pantages stage May 30 – July 9.