BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON at Broadway San Jose has you at 'Hello!'
There's not a lot to be written about The Book of Mormon that has not already seen literal or digital ink. As evidenced by the tour currently at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, it remains a musical laugh-fest of epic proportions.
The phrase "They had me at 'Hello!'" seems particularly apt as the show grabs you with this bell-ringer opening and does not let go until the final exclamatory reference to fly larvae housed in ballsacs.
It's all still cringe-worthy, puerile fun from the febrile minds of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, with shameless participation by EGOT-ist Robert Lopez of hifalutin Avenue Q fame, and this cast embraces the silliness with gusto.
As Elder Price, Gabe Gibbs is a perfectly animated Ken doll over-achiever, all teeth gleaming and shoulders squared, until he is saddled with a nerd and his dream of Orlando dissolves into the reality (in a South Park sort of way) of Uganda. Conner Peirson is his hysterical, nerdy foil, Elder Cunningham, spouting enthusiasm and hyperbole with abandon. Their Mutt-and-Jeff routine in consistently entertaining.
The rest of the ensemble, often doubling or tripling roles, are uniformly skilled and deeply committed to the piece, letting the humor and absurdity shine though without coyness or self-consciousness. Some callouts include the impossibly peppy PJ Adzima as Elder McKinley, Oge Agululué as the General (but not Butt Fucking Naked in the program), and Ron Bohmer as an assortment of Male Authority Figures.
A return visit does not lessen the joy of frog-on-face jokes and there's anticipatory joy in getting another dose of Elder McKinley's first-rate, tapping advice "Turn It Off," or succumbing to another "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream." The other thing you get is an opportunity to really absorb the musical riffs on other hit shows with whom Mormon has rightfully taken its place. Try to not hear the essence of "The Wizard and I," "Hakuna Matata," or "Somewhere That's Green" hinted in "You and Me (But Mostly Me), " "Hasa Diga Eebowai," and "Sal Tlay Ka Siti."
It's all in good fun, as evidenced by a full-page advertisement ("Our version is sliiiightly different.") for the actual Book of Mormon in the program and definitely worth another joyful, irreverent look.
The Book of Mormon runs at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts for Broadway San Jose through July 23, 2017.
[ Photo by Joan Marcus ]