BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON is Back! And This Time, It's Even Better
I'm a bit of THE BOOK OF MORMON junkie. I've seen it four times - once in New York and now three times in Portland - and the show I saw last night, which is part of Broadway in Portland's season, was hands-down the best. The current touring cast has incredible energy, delivering the all the laughs while hitting the right heartwarming notes as well.
For those of you in the I've-heard-of-the-show-but-don't-know-what-it's-about camp, THE BOOK OF MORMON is a multi-Tony award-winning musical about a pair of young Mormons, Elder Price (a living Ken doll) and Elder Cunningham (the stereotypical geek), whose mission takes them to Uganda. Needless to say, they quickly discover that their mission center training didn't adequately prepare them to help people dealing with AIDS, malnutrition, and a warlord bent on circumcising young women.
The show, from the creators of South Park, is definitely R-rated, and it satirizes Mormon beliefs, but there's nothing mean-spirited about it. In fact, the Mormon church regularly buys ad space in the playbills.
It takes a whole cast to make any show successful, and this company is universally outstanding (Kayla Pecchioni, who plays Nabulungi, brought the house down twice). But, what made this production for me was Conner Peirson, who plays Elder Cunningham. I imagine this role must be the hardest to cast because it requires a certain look (which isn't the typical Broadway leading man look) as well as a voice that can lift the roof off of a large theatre. The last two times THE BOOK OF MORMON has been to Portland, I was disappointed in the actor playing Elder Cunningham. Not this time - Peirson is perfect.
What gets me every time about THE BOOK OF MORMON is the authentic human connection and emotion that underlies the satire. In addition to having a great story and great music and being hilarious, it's surprisingly touching. The current production gets it all right.
THE BOOK OF MORMON runs at the Keller through this Sunday. More details here.
Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes