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Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON Offers an Irreverent and Hysterical Musical Comedy About Mismatched Missionaries Sent to Uganda

THE BOOK OF MORMON, the nine-time Tony Award®-winning Best Musical, is an incredibly irreverent and hysterical musical comedy about two young Mormon missionaries who travel to Africa to preach and recruit new members to their faith. First staged in 2011, no one is safe from parody as the play satirizes various Mormon (as well as many other religious) beliefs and practices, as well as many well-known public figures. With book, lyrics, and music written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, best known for creating the animated comedy South Park, the two co-created the music with Robert Lopez, the co-composer/co-lyricist of Avenue Q and Frozen.

Parker and Stone grew up in Colorado and references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been commonplace in their previous works. For research, the trio took a trip to Salt Lake City to meet with current and former Mormon missionaries, although I am sure the constant use of obscene language never took place during those meetings as it does in the show.

The show opened on Broadway in March 2011, after nearly seven years of development. The LDS Church issued a polite, measured response to the musical, and then purchased advertising space in its playbill in later runs, with a full-page ad in the program for the current national tour run at the Hollywood Pantages through July 9, 2017. The show then moves on to travel around the USA through October 2018. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/tour

THE BOOK OF MORMON centers on Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs, fresh off playing the role on Broadway) and Elder Cunningham (Connor Peirson), typically dressed in black slacks, white short-sleeved shirts and black ties as they go door-to-door, ringing doorbells in their attempt to share their scriptures with anyone willing to listen as they train to be ready to travel where assigned for two years. Along with them, the rest of the Mormon missionaries in their class celebrate this ritual at the beginning of the show with the clever and funny Hello!

The entire ensemble is really a big part of the comedy that forwards the action in this show, both the Mormons and the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village where the earnest Price and Cunningham are sent to preach the word. With Price being incredibly disappointed with the assignment and his lackluster companion, which he sings about in the soul-reveling "You and Me, But Mostly Me." As it turns out, he soon learns Elder Cunningham has never even read the Book of Mormon they are attempting to preach. Comedy abounds when the two are challenged by the lack of interest of the locals, who are preoccupied with more pressing troubles such as AIDS, famine, and oppression from the local warlord whose name I dare not put in print. Trust me, the name references will keep your roaring from start to finish, although religious conservatives may take umbrage with the language.

At the center of the Ugandan village is the beautiful and open-minded Nabulungi (Leanne Robinson), whose names Cunningham never seems to remember, often calling her the most outrageous names, including Nabisco and Neutrogena, as he verbally re-creates the Book of Mormon in his own imaginative terms (including references to Star Trek, Star Wars, and every other Sci-Fi or media story you can imagine). And with her successful acceptance and willingness to partake in Cunningham's very sexual baptism into the faith, the rather innocent Nabulungi manages to help get as many of 20 other new recruits, thus cementing Cunningham's hero standing with the other Elders, eventually attracting the attention and visit from their Elder supervisors in Salt Lake City.

Perhaps the funniest scene of the show is the depiction of the Book of Mormon via the song and staging of "Joseph Smith American Moses" put together by Nabulungi and the other Ugandan village recruits, which of course has little to do with the real Book of Mormon given Cunningham's overly active imagining of the stories. In fact, the other Elders watch with gapping mouths and eyes wide open with shock at their play, meant to salute and entertain their new fellow Church members. Which of course it does, just not the way the villagers thought it would.

The entire production is a wonder to behold, an entertainment extravaganza with musical supervision and vocal arrangements by Stephen Oremus, choreography by Casey Nicholaw, quick-paced direction by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, set design by Scott Pask, costume design by Ann Roth, lighting design by Brian MacDevitt and sound design by Brian Ronan.

THE BOOK OF MORMON has truly become an international sensation, and this touring production of the outrageous musical comedy about the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word in Uganda, is not be missed! Be advised due to explicit language and situations, children under the age of 5 are not permitted in the theatre. Running Time is 2 Hours and 30 Minutes (Including Intermission). Tickets start at $35 and are available at the Hollywood Pantages box office, located at 6233 Hollywood Blvd. (near the corner of Hollywood and Vine), or online at https://www.hollywoodpantages.com/events/detail/thebookofmormon

The nine-time Tony Award®-winning Best Musical is holding a lottery ticket policy for the National Tour at Hollywood Pantages Theatre for its limited 6-week engagement through July 9. In Los Angeles, the production will conduct a pre-show lottery at the box office, making a limited number of low-priced tickets available prior to every performance. Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; names will be drawn at random 2 hours in advance for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each; cash or credit card acceptable. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Could you be one of the lucky ones? You'll never know until you try!

For more information, visit www.BookofMormonTheMusical.com

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus



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Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary sc... (read more about this author)


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