BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON Offends and Entertains Masterfully
With shirts clean and pressed, and haircuts precise, the cast of The Book of Mormon tapped back into my heart as they did when the tour stopped in Pittsburgh four years ago. Since then, much has changed, both with the cast and with the societal conscience, but one thing remains the same: this show is hysterical and offensive in every way.
Many praises are owed to the show's creators, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone, who, together, wrote a musical satire that follows the young Mormon missionary partners Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs) and Elder Cunningham (Conner Pierson). After receiving their mission location of Africa, they soon discover a stark contrast between reality and their expectations from The Lion King.
Elder Price's inflated ego leads him to condescend to his worshipping peers, even separating from his mission partner, but this fervor and commitment to doing something incredible is what drives his character and a decent amount of the plot. Add in jokes about religion, bestiality, and AIDS, to mention some light topics, and you get one (spooky-Mormon) hell of a show!
The material often straddles the fence of appropriateness and crassness, leaving metaphors up for interpretation. This is certainly not a show to be seen by the light of heart; some audience members left at intermission to show their disapproval, but the second act ties the stories together to show the more holistic conception the show has about about life and society.
The cast is exceptional in almost all facets. Nabulungi, the female lead played by Leanne Robinson, controls the stage with "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" and "Hasa Diga Eebowai" (Reprise). Her clear tone is vibrant and direct. Elder Cunningham also compliments her and the rest of the cast with his comedic lines, delivered with a natural consistency.
When the cast comes together for large numbers like "Hasa Diga Eebowai" and "Hello", their harmonic chords ring and resonate beautifully. For the most part, Elder Price leads the cast with his renditions of iconic songs, but he occasionally drifts away from clear notes in favor of flat or nasally ones.
His dancing and the rest of the missionaries' make up for this. Their choreography is on another level, especially when they don their unnoticed tap shoes.
To those who think society has become numb to taboo topics, ask anyone attending the performance for their opinion. The reactions and emotions that come from the show - laughter, disgust, tears, praise - clearly demonstrate that we can still be moved in ways we never thought possible. So when you go to see the show, and you certainly should, relax, kick your feet up, throw your hands to the sky, and say "Hasa Diga Eebowai!"
To see or not to see score: 8/9; Strongly Recommended Show
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus