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BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON at Winspear Opera House

When you think of SOUTH PARK and its no-holds-barred, foul-mouthed humor, you don't tend to think of stories of faith and hope. But, when writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone (along with Robert Lopez of AVENUE Q and FROZEN fame) got together to write a musical based on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (better known as Mormons), that's exactly what resulted. THE BOOK OF MORMON is a satirical masterpiece - and it has become a Broadway sensation.

It is difficult to believe that THE BOOK OF MORMON opened on Broadway just five short years ago. Since then, it won the Best Musical Tony award, along with pretty much every other prestigious theatre award it could have earned. It isn't just critics who are loving it, though: the show is still grossing almost $1.5m a week on Broadway and filling that theater to 102% capacity! (They sell standing room only tickets...because they can.) In addition, they have a long-running production in London's West End, as well as the national tour. Currently visiting the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the fourth time in just over two years, this musical is still hitting record sales and packing them in at the Winspear Opera House.

The story revolves around two mission companions, Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs) and Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand), who are assigned to serve in far-off and mysterious Uganda. The Utah boys are very much out of their comfort zone, but do their best to spread their message in this community filled with disease, anger towards God, and fear of the local warlords who kill and maim for fun. They are supported by a cadre of other missionaries, helmed by their district leader, Elder McKinley (Daxton Bloomquist). The villagers are skeptical, but friendly, and soon the Elders make friends with Mafala (Sterling Jarvis) and his daughter, Nabulungi (Candace Quarrels).

Having been born in Salt Lake City and raised Mormon myself, I still remember the first time I heard the music for THE BOOK OF MORMON. I knew of the missionary theme, and had served my own mission in Russia at the age of 19. Although I had left the Church by the time this show came out, I still held a lot of respect for my family and friends who still believed - and I was worried to see how badly they would be treated, and how many misconceptions and outright lies would be included. I was stunned. Not only does the show get all their facts straight, but the humor directed toward the Mormons is far from mean-spirited, managing to simultaneously offend and entertain believers and non-believers evenly. This being said, I should note that it is not a "family friendly" show, and patrons should be aware of the intentionally shocking amount of foul language and adult humor.

Surprisingly, the best part about THE BOOK OF MORMON is its message of faith. Hidden inside the humor and hilarity, the true message of the show is that happiness is not found in material things, or even in health and security. Happiness comes from inside and from just believing. It really is heartwarming, especially during the holiday season.

Tickets and information about THE BOOK OF MORMON can be found at The tour performs through December 31st, 2016.

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From This Author Jared West