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January 5, 2013 | By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times
Josh Gad found religion - along with huge laughs, rave reviews and an adoring fan base - as part of the original cast of "The Book of Mormon," the smash stage musical from the creators of "South Park. " The rotund actor was center stage as the overeager Mormon Elder Cunningham, dancing and singing his way to a Tony nomination for best leading actor in a musical. Gad has now traded Broadway for the Beltway. He stars in NBC's new comedy "1600 Penn," playing Skip Gilchrist, the bumbling member of a dysfunctional (and fictional)
December 14, 2012 | By John M. Glionna
Mormon feminists have hit on fashion to promote demands for a larger say in church affairs: This Sunday is  “Wear Pants to Church Day," intended as a show of solidarity for women's religious rights. Their sartorial flair has triggered some support - along with some bitter anger. The event, which was being promoted on a special Facebook page, had drawn more than 1,200 supporters, a relative handful compared with the 6 million practicing Mormons nationwide.  But by Thursday evening, the original page had been taken down and a new one posted, with this note:  “The event page got taken down due to the death threats.
December 12, 2012 | By Michael Muskal
A Delaware man on Wednesday sued the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church, charging that he was sexually abused by a scoutmaster, the latest suit to be filed in connection with the scandal that has rocked the youth movement. Melvin Novak, 28, announced his suit, filed in Philadelphia, at a news conference. In his complaint, Novak alleges that pedophiles were involved in scouting for decades, as demonstrated when the Boy Scouts of America in October released confidential documents -- known as the “perversion files” -- that  list 1,200 alleged abusers who were weeded out of the organization between 1959 and 1985.
December 3, 2012 | By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
SALT LAKE CITY - When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently reduced the age requirement for missionaries by one year for men, to 18, and by two years for women, to 19, the number of women applying to serve jumped five-fold. At the same time, the church reaffirmed that women would serve just 18 months, compared with two years for men. That rule, combined with the one-year difference in age requirements, touched off a new round of questions from Mormon feminists about how much progress women in the church are actually making.
November 9, 2012 | By Mike Boehm
Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner, now starring as the lead missionaries in the Los Angeles production of “The Book of Mormon,” will get to hear British laughter come Feb. 25, when the show opens in London's West End. The Daily Mail reported Thursday that the producers changed their mind about hiring an all-British cast and opted for the two Americans in the lead roles of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham. Sonia Friedman, co-producer in London, said “it became clear early on during the audition process in London that we needed the real thing.” She noted that Creel's role, Elder Price, requires that “sort of square-jawed Mormon, and you can't create that all-American look.” One shudders for the British thespian community if that kind of thinking really takes hold.
November 8, 2012 | By John M. Glionna and Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
PROVO, Utah - Sitting cross-legged on a lawn with two other students, Whitney Call, a 23-year-old creative writing major at Brigham Young University, took satisfaction in at least one aspect of the outcome of the 2012 presidential election: Mitt Romney might not have won, but he demonstrated that being a Mormon, like her, was no barrier to winning the nation's highest office. "His faith was not a factor in the election at all. Maybe that means that people are beginning to realize that Mormons are more mainstream than they thought," she said.
October 25, 2012 | By Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Celebration Church sits tucked away in the corner of a repurposed shopping mall, one of the more modest venues for worship in this city of booming megachurches and superstar preachers. It has no cafe, bookstore or multimedia wizardry, but it compensates with warmth, friendliness and an especially erudite pastor who has a day job as an entrepreneur. Still, the message from the pulpit on Sundays this month is not so different from that being heard in conservative evangelical churches across America.
October 23, 2012 | By Mike Boehm
This post has been corrected. See note below. Mormons in Africa apparently have elbowed aside witches in Oz to achieve what the Pantages Theatre claims is the highest one-week box office gross in L.A. theater history. "The Book of Mormon" raked in $2,246,093 for the week ending Oct. 21, the Pantages announced Tuesday, but a theater spokesman declined to say what the previous record had been, citing a policy against spilling such beans. A web search turned up an announcement by the producers of "Wicked" that it had taken in a Pantages record of $1,949,068 during the final week of 2008 to wrap up its nearly two-year run at the 2,703-seat Hollywood theater.
October 11, 2012 | By Jenn Harris
The presidential campaign has placed a spotlight on the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The Book of Mormon” musical is pushing the religion to the forefront of pop culture. And with Ann Romney's recent appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” semi-secret Mormon undergarments are no longer so secret. Not that Mrs. Romney's underwear was showing. But the fact that it didn't show under her sleek, knee-grazing skirt stirred up debate among some members of the faithful about whether she was or wasn't wearing the “temple garments” required for most adult Mormons.
October 10, 2012 | By Martin Miller, Los Angeles Times
The idea that Salt Lake City could be a paradise is meant to be absurdly funny to the big city folks piling into the touring production of "The Book of Mormon" now at the Pantages Theatre. As it turns out, the notion is also humorous to someone from Lincoln, Neb. "I've never been to Salt Lake," said Nebraskan Samantha Marie Ware, who stars as the innocent Ugandan teen Nabulungi in the Tony Award-winning musical. "Maybe I'll make it there soon. " Ware's song "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" - what the Utah capital sounds like when pronounced with a heavy Central African accent - marks a critical moment in the hit musical created by "South Park's" Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with composer and lyricist Robert Lopez.
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