Review Roundup: THE BOOK OF MORMON on Tour, What Did Critics Think?
The national tour of "The Book of Mormon" is cracking up audiences across America. What are the critics in each tour stop saying? Check out the reviews from various cities below.
The Book of Mormon Tour Cast
Liam Tobin leads the company as Elder Price, with Jordan Michael Brown as his goofy sidekick, Elder Cunningham, and Kayla Pecchioni plays Nabulungi. Andy Huntington Jones, Jacques C. Smith, and Corey Jones round out the principles as Elder McKinley, Mafala Hatimbi and General, respectively.
Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader: As golden-boy missionary Elder Price, Kevin Clay nails the blend of self-absorption and self-doubt driving the character's travails in Uganda. Conner Peirson seems to be channeling the late Stephen Furst's Flounder in Animal House to delightful effect as sidekick-turned-theological-star Elder Cunningham. Kayla Pecchioni stands out as Nabulungi, the young Ugandan woman who seeks answers from Elder Cunningham's pop-culture spin on Mormonism.
Alexis Bugajski, Picture this Post: Kevin Clay and Connor Peirson playing Elder Price and Elder Cunningham respectively, lean into their characters' polar opposite personalities to create a dynamic duo. Peirson plays Elder Cunningham with unbridled optimism, even when he and Elder Price are in the bleakest of situations. And Clay as Elder Price holds his poise trying to be the best Mormon he can be. Together they play off each other to create an engaging and comedic pair.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: Still, this silly but heartfelt show - the kind of attraction that needs a longer intermission due to all the people in line at the bar - is a reminder of the unifying power of laughing together. It is to the eternal credit of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that they always have left this daring but (at the core) affectionate parody of their young global missionaries alone, acknowledging that everybody needs to laugh and taking it on the doctrinal chin in service of a greater goal. Good for them.
Misha Davenport, BroadwayWorld: The secret weapon has always been the show's message and I'm convinced this is the reason why the Church of Latter Day Saints still feels this show is an appropriate vehicle to solicit new converts via a full-page ad in the show's Playbill. In the absence of faith, any religion (be it Mormon, Muslim, Catholicism or whatever) is at best merely a metaphor and, at worst, a collection of nonsensical stories of things that may or may not have happened long ago. It is our belief that transforms written words on a page into something divine.
William Shutes, O&AN: Kayla Pecchioni's Nabulungi - variously referred to by Elder Cunningham as Nicki Minaj, Neutrogena, and other hilarious malapropisms - provides the beating heart to the story and is a standout among the large cast.
Jeffrey Ellis, BroadwayWorld: What sets The Book of Mormon apart from the rest of the pack of outsized Broadway hits, both historical and otherwise, is the show's hold-nothing-back attitude that comes over the footlights to inspire its audience to clamorous, adoring heights. Parker, Lopez and Stone push the creative envelope - hell, they rip it to shreds with their choice of colorful language that may shock or cajole you into some newfound sense of theatrical transformation.
Coti Howell, Nashville Noise: The Book of Mormon is great for anyone looking to laugh - with thick skin. If you're easily offended, triggered by foul language and sexual innuendos then this is not the show for you. If you're looking for a hilarious date night, a great girl's night out that includes tons of laughing or just a show that will bring you to tears, this is the show for you.
Michael Rabice, BroadwayWorld: Director/Choreographer Casey Nicholaw stages the evening with ebullient energy, finding jokes that read straight out of The Book of Mormon itself. Plenty of wide eyed grins among the elders, some frenetic choreography and zany costumes by Ann Roth allow the show to pack a wallop from start to finish. The opening number "Hello" is gleeful as each of the new elders rings those doorbells, puts on that Mormon boy grin and starts his sales pitch. This particular cast has so many fabulous individual personalities that each shine through, thanks to differences in stature, voice type and knock out stage presence.
John Szablewski, Buffalo Theatre Guide: Elder Cunningham is played the comedic genius Jordan Matthew Brown. Brown is just absolutely everything you could ask for in an Elder Cunningham. No fear, not hesitation. He puts it all on the line, and the audience absolutely falls in love with him. His performance of "Man Up" is more than anyone could ask for in a comedy of this caliber.
Anthony Chase, Buffalo News: Of particular note on this tour is the hilariously precise performance of Liam Tobin as Elder Price. Good looking to the point of human caricature, Tobin endows the character with self-confidence to the point of idiocy, coupled with the shallow self-absorption of a 2-year-old. He also possesses a glorious singing voice. A true triple-threat, I was impressed by his comic timing, his vocal prowess, and his dancing, which adds tremendously to his performance.
John Harding, DC Metro Theater Arts: This national touring production remains in the capable hands of original Director-Choreographer Casey Nicholaw and writer Trey Parker. Their fluidly paced staging of scene shifts and chipper lead performances are as slick as you'll find in any Broadway offering.
Jay Irwin, BroadwayWorld: The tour still holds up just as much as it ever has. You're still getting all the same incredible sets and costumes from the Broadway production and still that fantastic choreography and staging from Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker. So not to worry, if you're familiar with the show at all, it has not changed (thank Heavenly Father).
Eric Andrews-Katz, Equality 365: The musical is absolutely a gem of a show. By the time the show was over, my face hurt from laughing so often. BE WARNED: this musical is as far from "Raindrops on Roses" as one can get, and is not for those that are easily offended, or those that may be rigid in the "political correctness."
Holly Beretto, Houstonia: Where the show suffers, though, is in its sheer lack of an orchestra. The original Broadway production had a nine-member pit playing nearly two dozen instruments. The tour uses a six-member orchestra on five instruments, with programmed augmentation. These tunes demand a much larger backdrop.
Jessica Goldman, Houston Press: The South Park gang gets away with their brand of scathing take-down humor partly because they're equal opportunity offenders. One week they'd skewer Jesus, the next it would be the gay community, then U.S. politicians or the physically challenged and let's not forget, Tom Cruise. They stuck it to everyone. Let all of us laugh at all of us. But Book of Mormon isn't an all-in proposition....it really is just making fun of the Mormon religion with a side plate of African derision.
Brett Cullum, BroadwayWorld: I was most struck with Liam Tobin who plays the pivotal role of Elder Kevin Price, a faithful earnest Mormon determined to do impressive things on his mission. He gets the hardest numbers of the evening, but sings right through them with perfect pitch and hair to match.
Hannah Lynn, PGH City Paper: The creators went through great care to make accurate details about Mormons but didn't do the same for the Ugandan characters. The biggest laughs in the audience came from the play's purposeful racism, like the running joke of Elder Cunnigham not knowing how to pronounce Nabulungi, or the white Missionaries singing "I Am Africa" with their fists in the air. There are many jokes about AIDS (do not cure it by f-ing a baby, they sing, do it by f-ing a frog!) and female genital mutilation (comedy!). The laughs sometimes feel eerie, like the (mostly white) audience is laughing at the jokes, but also at the fact that they themselves, at least, are not such blatant racists, and isn't it funny that some people are?
About The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards, including "Best Musical," "Best Score," "Best Book," and "Best Direction." The musical features a score and book by EGOT winner Robert Lopez, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and direction by Tony Award-winners Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker.