BWW Reviews: The National Tour of BOOK OF MORMON at the Denver Center - OMG Funny!
This winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical tells the story of two missionaries that travel to Uganda to spread the word of Mormon. When they arrive with big dreams and the greatest intentions, everything goes terribly wrong and they learn about themselves and humanity.
THE BOOK OF MORMON features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, “South Park.” Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q. The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker. The set design was by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Brian Ronan. Orchestrations are by Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus. Music direction and vocal arrangements are by Stephen Oremus.
Hello! First off I have to say that this show is completely and outrageously offensive and I couldn't get enough! I think I said Oh My God at least twenty times, cried from laughter twice, and wet myself at least once! I was very interested to see how this would play in a conservatively progressive town like Denver. I was sure that after Hasa Diga Eebowai (Hakuna Matata gone terribly wrong) people may leave in droves, but surprisingly everyone was absolutely loving it and that was confirmed by the thunderous applause at the end. Seriously though, if you are easily offended or not quite in high school yet, then I would avoid this show at this time. Even with all jabs at religion, Africans, AIDS, and everything in between, you realize that this show is quite touching and really does have heart. It was reminiscent of Monty Python at times (especially Act One) and I found that the first act was all the big numbers while act two really delved into the story. The dancing was quite unexpected and fabulous. I just have to say this - Matt and Trey you are absolutely gifted song writers and put together one of the best musicals of our time. It may be time to retire South Park (seriously - haven't you offended everyone by now) and either do an entirely messed up version of Glee or Smash or creating another fabulous musical!!!
Gavin Creel was a shining star as Elder Price, going from good boy to fallen hero and self acceptance. He had an amazing voice and his entire performance was top notch. I especially loved I Believe. Original cast member Jared Gertner is in his element as Elder Cunningham. The audience totally fell in love with this underdog and rockin showstopper, Man Up was so delightful. This is an impressive debut by Grey Henson in his first professional role as Elder McKinley. He had just the right amount of gay for this hilarious role and Turn It Off was so cute and fun. Samantha Marie Ware gave such a moving performance as Nabulungi. Her soaring vocals in Salt Lake City were lovely and I adored her duet with Cunningham in Baptize Me. Kevin Mambo as her father Mafala Hatimbi gave a tender and heartfelt performance, and Derrick Williams was threatening and humorous as the General. The entire ensemble should get a standing ovation for their energetic performance. Hello, Two by Two, Hasa Diga Eebowai, Turn It Off and I am Africa (which had me on the floor in laughter) were all just superb!!! Great job!
Just remember - Tomorrow is a Latter Day and Believe that this show is one you do not want to miss!!! THE BOOK OF MORMON is bringing the good word to the Denver now until September 2nd at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at 303.893.4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org.