BWW Review: Sacramento says Hello! to THE BOOK OF MORMON at California Musical Theatre
Bawdy, blasphemous, brilliant and blithe! The Book of Mormon has returned after a two year absence and Sacramento is ready! The winner of 9 Tony Awards, The Book of Mormon is a hilarious depiction of the Mormon religion by the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) and Avenue Q (Robert Lopez).
Leading the class at the Missionary Training Center is Elder Price (played by Jim Carrey-lookalike Kevin Clay), whose confidence and earnestness has ingratiated him to his superiors and peers. Hoping for a mission assignment to Orlando, he is sorely disappointed when he learns that he is, instead, being sent to Uganda. To make matters worse, he is paired with the bumbling, storytelling Elder Cunningham (the show-stealing tour de force Conner Peirson).
Once in Uganda, they are met by villagers who are plagued with AIDS, female genital mutilation, and a crazy warlord by the name of General Butt Fucking Naked. In order to cope with the tribulations that they face, they have invented the maxim "Hasa Diga Eebowai", which is one of the signature irreverent numbers in the show. Elder Price is convinced that he can convert the Ugandans by sharing the story of the birth of Mormonism ("All-American Prophet") but is quickly overwhelmed by the realities of life in a third-world country. After suffering a breakdown and running off to attempt to escape to Orlando, he finds himself in a "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" that includes cameos by Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnnie Cochran, Genghis Khan, Hitler, and dancing coffee cups. In the meantime, Elder Cunningham is encouraged by the pretty Ugandan, Nabulungi, to share The Book of Mormon with the villagers. Realizing that they are all quickly losing interest, he quickly resorts to his yarn-spinning ways and mesmerizes them with tales of Joseph Smith having diarrhea, Boba Fett turning people into frogs, and a wizard coming down to Earth from the Starship Enterprise. It has the unexpected benefit of giving him some much needed confidence after he sees that his tales are having the effect of saving babies and clitorises.
Elder Cunningham's success culminates with the baptism of the villagers, which brings the attention and subsequent visit of the Mission President. The excited villagers surprise everyone with a mini-musical interpretation of the life of Joseph Smith and everything goes south once again. Despite the trouble, Elder Price realizes that Elder Cunningham has been the true face of the Mormon church the entire time and has taught him that friendship and loyalty supersede personal gain and accolades.
This dynamic production is even better than the previous tour, so if you saw it two years ago I recommend that you see this one. A bright and energetic ensemble complements the main players and provides a colorful and hysterical night of entertainment. Kevin Clay's smooth vocals bring a comforting steadiness to Elder Price and Conner Peirson's endearing Elder Cunningham hits it out of the park with his just-right amount of clumsiness and skittishness while rounding it out with impeccable comedic skills. This is the show to put on the must-see list!
The Book of Mormon plays at California Musical Theatre through March 18, 2018. Tickets may be purchased at the Community Center Theater Box Office at 1301 L Street, Sacramento, by calling (916) 808-5181, or by visiting tickets.com.
Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes