BWW Review: BOOK OF MORMON at Popejoy Hall
The Book of Mormon returned to Popejoy Hall on Tuesday, February 4th. This outlandish musical is a play is a satirical look at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' beliefs and practices, particularly the ideas of the power of love and services. It was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, best known for their work on South Park, as well as Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the music for Avenue Q. Book of Mormon won multiple Tonys, including for that of Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Original Score. It has gone on National Tour two times previously and if last night's production was any indication, the humor and entertainment has not dimmed in the slightest.
The Book of Mormon follows two Latter-Day Saints missionaries (Elder Price and Elder Cunningham) as they attempt to preach about their faith to the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. They face resistance from the villiagers, who are far more concerned with their day to day problems, including HIV/AIDS, famine, and oppression, all the while being terrorized by village warlords. Throughout the musical, the Elders find their faith being tested, and learn new ways of bringing their messages to the villagers, even if that means stretching the truth a little bit.
As Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, respectively, Liam Tobin and Jordan Michael Brown hada fantastic chemistry and were able to play off of one another in a way that flowed perfectly. In addition, they easily engaged the audience to their character's plights - to the point where everyone was wondering what would happen next - all the while laughing at the absurd situations the Elders found themselves in. "I Am Here For You," where Elder Cunningham tries to bond with his new "best friend" Elder Price, is a good example of this, as Cunningham's enthusiasm is perfectly countered by Price's bitterness at being sent to Uganda for their mission. The rest of the cast does a wonderful job as well, never missing a beat and rising to the challenge of the humor within the production, with a few notable standouts. As Mafala Hatimbi, the villager who welcomes the Elders to the village, Jaques C. Smith brings heart to the role, as Hatimbi tries to do his best to protect his daughter and the rest of the villagers from the warlords. As Nabulungi, Hatimbi's daughter, Alyah Chanelle Scott brings an endearing earnestness that helped to draw the audience in. As Elder McKinley, the district leader, Andy Huntington Jones, brings an absolutely perfect comedic timing to his role, and this could especially be seen in his performance of "Turn It Off" as he and the rest of the Mormons describe how they deal with difficult emotions.
From the very first song ("Hello"), to the last ("Encore"), the audience was enthralled with the production, and incredibly entertained if the constant laughter in the theatre is anything to go by. There didn't appear to be a single person who left Book of Mormon disappointed with what they had seen.
Book of Mormon runs from Tuesday, February 4th through Sunday, February 9th, with performances at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8 pm on Saturday, and 1 PM and 6:30 PM on Sunday, February 9th. Tickets range from $53 - $153 plus fees and can be purchased at popejoypresents.com, by visiting the UNM Ticketing Services or UNM Bookstore, or by calling (505) 925-5858.
image source:Julieta Cervantes