BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON at Music Hall
As a musical theatre nerd, but broke college student, I have heard the cast recording to The Book of Mormon and watched the Tony's performances many times, but have never seen the show in full. Nevertheless, I thought I was pretty prepared for what I was getting myself into when I went and saw it at Music Hall. I was wrong.
Sure, there are songs about cursing God and lines about the doctor having maggots in his scrotum that could turn people away from the get-go, but it is the way the songs like "Two by Two" and "Turn it Off" are performed that keep the audience in their seats with charming and over-the-top choreography.
Not to mention that between jokes about AIDS and bestiality, writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a message about what living 'faith-based' really means, something that is very relatable. And the characters are easy to love and actors who play them make the audience want to get to know them more.
The Book of Mormon follows Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs) and Elder Cunningham (Chad Burris) as they get paired together to go to Uganda to convert as many Africans as they can. This was not what Elder Price had expected at all. Used to getting what he's prayed for, Price was waiting to hear that he was being sent to Orlando where we went once on a family vacation and still has naïve dreams about. At first, the audience wants Elder Price to get everything he wishes, but when the Golden Child doesn't get his way he turns into a self-riotous mess that you just want to slap. Especially when he tells his loveable, but slightly pathetic, companion that they aren't friends. Fresh from his stint in the Broadway company, Gibbs excellently shows Price's fall from grace with his boyish charm and impressive voice. It is fresh-faced Burris that steals the show though, with his jolly attitude and nerdy references that had everyone rolling in their seats. Burris plays to his strengths, his humor and body language showing that the "side-kick" can save the day just as well as the Golden Child, even if his methods are conventional...or the truth.
The show has a lot of heart and humor, and is a good time, which is probably how it gets away with the explicit language and adult situations. It isn't for everyone. There were times when I blushed and looked away from certain scenes, and some of the people in the row behind me were not pleased with the song "Hasa Diga Eebowai," but the show is by the creators of South Park, which is not known for its family-friendly humor, so keep that in mind if you think the show will fairly portray the Mormon religion.