BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON Brings Something Incredible to Orlando
Elder Price of "The Book of Mormon" made it very clear that he loves Orlando during the musical's stop at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this past Wednesday night-and Orlando made it known that it loved him right back.
"The Book of Mormon" began its Orlando leg of the tour on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Walt Disney Theater and will run until Sunday, Dec. 17. The critically acclaimed Broadway musical, written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (TV's "South Park") with Robert Lopez (Broadway's "Avenue Q"), revolves around the story of two mismatched Mormon missionaries who are placed on a two-year mission to an AIDs-ravaged village in Uganda. From there, it follows the two missionaries throughout their journey-wrought with mishaps and self discovery.
From the first "Hello" belted by Elder Price (portrayed by Kevin Clay), to the final bow, the cast of "The Book of Mormon" grabbed ahold of the audience and took them on their wild (and often crude) adventure from America to Uganda. Although the show's tour is Clay's first national tour, he embodied the naive enthusiasm of Elder Price like a seasoned Broadway performer and brought an enthusiastic and driven performance to the stage in Orlando.
Clay effortlessly brings the self-confidence that the highly praised Elder Price carries with him into every performance throughout the show. But even though he's the golden boy with a pride that makes his character easy to want to throw under the bus at times, Clay puts in such a heartfelt performance that it's easy to root for his perfectly-imperfect character-even when Jesus hits the nail on the head and calls him out for his selfish behavior in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream."
But the scene stealers throughout the show fall to Elder Cunningham and Nabulungi, portrayed by Conner Peirson and Kayla Pecchioni, respectively. Peirson's portrayal of Elder Cunningham is more of a caricature of the bumbling sidekick, with an extra dash of flamboyant zeal and comic relief. This zeal rings through clearly in his duet with Pecchioni in "Baptize Me," where his physical movements own the stage and command the attention of everyone.
All of the emphatic dancing on his part makes the song one of the most memorable within the show and will without a doubt continue to bring roars of laughter from the audience throughout the tour. But Peirsen's portrayal of the ne'er-do-well Elder Cunningham also brings the right balance of comedy and heart to the stage-and the reprise of "I Am Here for You" when Elder Cunningham faces a crossroads in his journey, pulls out more of the raw emotion that makes Elder Cunningham a relatable character for many.
Beneath the crude and (more often than not) offensive language that "The Book of Mormon" is known for, lies an incredible sense of innocence and naïveté of youth on the verge of adulthood. This cast manages to somehow capture the very heart of this show and let every innocent, conflicted and heartfelt emotion pour off the stage. In short, they blew my fr**king mind.