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By: Apr. 11, 2013
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Book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone; scenic design, Scott Pask; costume design, Ann Roth; lighting design, Brian MacDevitt; sound design, Brian Ronan; hair design, Josh Marquette; orchestrations, Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus; music supervision and vocal arrangements, Stephen Oremus; choreography, Casey Nicholaw; directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker

Cast in order of appearance:

Mormon, Jeffrey David Sears; Moroni, Grey Henson; Elder Price, Mark Evans; Elder Cunningham, Christopher John O'Neill; Mission Training Center Voice, Mike McGowan; Price's Dad, Mike McGowan; Cunningham's Dad, Bud Weber; Mrs. Brown, Phyre Hawkins; Guards, Bobby Daye, Mykal Kilgore, Christian Dante White; Mafala Hatimbi, Kevin Mambo; Nabulungi, Samantha Marie Ware; Elder McKinley, Grey Henson; Joseph Smith, Mike McGowan; General, Derrick Williams; Doctor, JamaAl Wilson; Mission President, Mike McGowan

Performances and Tickets:

Now through April 28, Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street, Boston; starting at $43 and available at Ticketmaster, 800-982-2787 or online at; limited number of $25 lottery tickets available at the Box Office 2-1/2 hours before curtain.

I ask you, who doesn't enjoy a good joke about clitorectomy?

And baby rape? Well, that's just a laugh riot.

Perhaps racial stereotypes are more your comic cup of tea. If so, you'll be in hysterics at the sight of those big, beautiful, bouncing black shlongs.

And what "edgy" new musical would be complete without a high-spirited ditty about the repression of latent homosexual tendencies? How original. How au courant. How tedious.

Such is the stuff of The Book of Mormon, the much hyped nine-time Tony anointed Broadway musical currently on tour in Boston through April 28th. Called "the best musical of the century" by Ben Brantley of the New York Times, this insipid satire by the creators of South Park and Avenue Q disappoints at every turn. With jokes as smelly as a week-old litter box, this show should be called The Book of Morons.

Okay, the conceit of lampooning a pair of naïve young missionaries sent to do God's work in war torn Uganda is novel. Confronted with real-world sins against humanity like child sexual slavery, female mutilation, an unrelenting AIDS epidemic and abject poverty, the Mutt and Jeff duo of All-American Elder Price (Mark Evans) and dorky Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O'Neill) could learn some serious life lessons at the hands of the people they have come to "save." However, any potential for the promise of true satire is lost in a quagmire of crass jokes, one-dimensional stock characters, sophomoric physical comedy, and blandly repetitious songs and production numbers that beat the audience to death with their message. The Book of Mormon is as obnoxious as an attention-seeking child who repeatedly demands, "Watch me. Watch me." It substitutes outrageousness for scathing wit. Its blasphemy is uninspired and far from funny.

The talented and energetic cast does its best to breathe life into this potty-mouthed mash-up of juvenile cartoon comedy and unimaginable Third World danger and despair. God bless them, at times they even manage to infuse real humanity and hope into a puerile book and lackluster score. Christopher John O'Neill as the chubby, self-effacing misfit Elder Cunningham and Samantha Marie Ware as Nabulungi, the optimistic Ugandan girl who befriends him, are especially endearing. Their metaphorical duet, "Baptize Me," would be downright romantic if it weren't for Casey Nicholaw's heavy-handed - and unnecessarily explicit - staging. Nicholaw's overemphasis on the sexual undertones in the couple's encounter kills any potential for wry humor.

Unfortunately it's hard to care about any of the other characters in The Book of Mormon. While the fresh-faced and classically handsome Mark Evans as Elder Price sells his big come-to-Jesus solo "I Believe" with true conviction, his transformation from self-absorbed glory seeker to selfless companion is too little, too late. The same is true for the big finale. By the time the Mormon missionaries and Ugandan villagers achieve a mutual, if unorthodox, spiritual liberation, any meaningful connection to them has been severed by the lingering distaste from previous scenes.

I suppose no show could measure up to the excessively hyped expectations that preceded the arrival of The Book of Mormon. Oh, well. Guess we'll have to save the rapture for a latter day.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF BROADWAY IN BOSTON: Phyre Hawkins as Mrs. Brown, Mark Evans as Elder Price and Christopher John O'Neill as Elder Cunningham; Christopher John O'Neill and the cast of The Book of Mormon; Mark Evans and Derrick Williams as General


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