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BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON, Bristol Hippodrome


BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON, Bristol Hippodrome

BWW Review: THE BOOK OF MORMON, Bristol Hippodrome

5 stars

If you speak to someone who says they don't like musicals, chances are, when you mention The Book of Mormon you'll be greeted with more enthusiasm than scepticism.

What is it about this show that manages to transcend the traditional musical theatre perceptions? The subject matter? Hearing the c-word sung to high heaven? The sight of a goose-stepping Hitler with devil horns in a dream sequence?

First off, it's by the creators of South Park. So it's rude, crude and hilarious. Secondly, it's frankly just a very good musical.

The show is centred on the (oft ridiculed) beliefs of the Mormons and their mission to spread their word far and wide. So young Mormons are compelled to spend two years abroad converting people.

We meet Elder Price as a model Mormon. Neat, sharp and all-American. His preferred destination of Florida for his mission is replaced by Uganda. His companion Elder Cunningham is thrilled 'Oh boy! Like Lion King!?'.

Truthfully though, The Book of Mormon could easily be about any religion. It cleverly swoops in and out of exploring how stories, however far fetched, help people make sense of their situation. In some ways, the target isn't the Mormon's, (though they do take a fair amount of flack for their belief that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri) it's any religion offering salvation.

The shows greatest send up though is of the western perception of Africa. The idea of Africa as one homogenous continent of backwards people living in mud huts that require saving. It constantly pokes and prods, as one line sings 'Americans have discovered a cure for AIDS, but they're saving it for a latter day'.

Robert Lopez is the man behind the music which never dips below excellence. This is a man who knows how to write an ear worm (parents- he is responsible for "Let It Go"). His songs are the glue that makes the show work.

You could call the songs a pastiche of other musicals, or you could say they're just extremely good. Act 1 closer "Man Up" uses the traditional musical call backs and brings all the characters together, just as if you were watching Les Miserables.

Perhaps it's the greatest trick of all to have an audience think they've watched something that subverts the form when really it's straight out of the musical rule book.

The tour is exceptionally well cast. Robert Colvin looks every inch the perfect Mormon as Elder Price. Matched with a mighty performance from Conner Peirson as Elder Cunningham, the duo drive the show.

While perhaps you might not want to sit next to your nan during The Book of Mormon it surely retains its title as 'the musical to take people who don't like musicals to'.

The Book of Mormon at Bristol Hippodrome until 22 February

Photo Credit: Paul Coltas

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