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The Book of Mormon

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The New York Times calls it ‘The best musical of this century.’

This outrageous musical comedy from the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Bobby Lopez, the Co-writer of Avenue Q and Frozen, follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent on a mission to a place that's about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get. Now with sold-out productions in London, on Broadway, and in North America, Melbourne and Sydney, The Book of Mormon has become a worldwide sensation.

The Washington Post says, 'It is the kind of evening that restores your faith in musicals.’ And Entertainment Weekly raves, 'Grade A: the funniest musical of all time.' It’s The Book of Mormon, the nine-time Tony Award and four-time Olivier Award-winning Best Musical.

The Book of Mormon Tickets

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Our review on The Book of Mormon

The Book Of Mormon - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Thursday 9th December 2021 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

If I ever doubted where I would end up when my time comes, I think tonight’s show fire bolted me below to meet my toasty warm maker under an archway of pitch forks.  Why?  Because I didn’t stop laughing at Book Of Mormon’s outrageous humour and unpolitical correctness.  This is not a show for the woke generation unless they are able to grasp the fact that Book Of Mormon ridicules everything and everyone without discrimination.  Every religion, race, ability, illness and sexuality is mocked, poked fun at and shredded with the kind of humour that makes you laugh but then ask the question, “Should I really be laughing at that?” Yet two seconds later, you are laughing at it again! 

 


So how do you describe Book Of Mormon to someone who has not seen it?  Well, it follows the story of two newly qualified Latter-day Saints missionaries as they travel to Uganda to preach their faith and convert the villagers.  Sounds a little heavy right?  I promise you it isn’t!  For one of these Mormons is an egocentric and pretty ticked off he didn’t get a mission to Orlando Florida, whilst the other just wants to be his best friend and be accepted at any cost – even if that means he has to tell a few lies and throw the starship enterprise or a few Avengers into the story of the Latter-Day Saints.  Sprinkle campness over the other Mormons, add in a drug lord tribal leader in Uganda and a village who have the strangest beliefs on how to cure their current AIDS pandemic (I don’t think I can type what they are here, but they involve babies and frogs!), the devil getting jiggy with Hitler, and a parody of a play within a play as the Ugandans present the Book Of Mormon to visiting dignitaries through high kicks and jazz hands, it becomes clear that this production is anything BUT heavy.  It is risqué, controversial, potentially offensive and I’m not sure what all that says about me, but I loved it!     

 


Book Of Mormon
is written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who co-created South Park (now do you get an understanding of the level of humour in this musical?!), with music by Robert Lopez (Avenue Q , Frozen).  All three have produced a clever, witty, strong musical that despite its dark humour, does have a message running through it that no matter what your beliefs, we are all people and we need to be more accepting of that.  We don’t all need to believe in the same thing to get along and we can actually learn a lot by accepting why different people believe in different things.  After all, a privileged white Mormon from Utah is always going to have a different outlook on life from an African gang leader in Uganda but that doesn’t mean there has to be hate.  Parker, Stone and Lopez use a tried and tested musical theatre format to maximum effect.  It opens with the big rousing number, has the ‘hero’s journey desire’ song, the classic love song, the eleven o’ clock number and the big finish.  There were even parodies and jibes in there from other musicals, such as The Lion King, Wicked and a hint of Uncle Toms Cabin from The King and I.  The overall impact is huge and leaves you feeling full of endorphins and glitter!      

 


The true humour of this musical for me lies in its characterisation and choreography for it displays the cream of cheesiness at atomic levels.  It is genius!  Let’s talk about pressure from the church to deny your sexuality, or that you grew up in an abusive household, but let’s do it juxtaposed against a song and dance routine that the purest of pure Disney Mouseketeers would be jealous of.  It is a smorgasbord of fromage fondue and makes it point whilst leaving you howling.  Very effective.

There are witty lines, jokes and running themes right from Jesus’ game show voice at the beginning, to the O.M Gosh, to Elder Cunningham constantly changing the name of his Ugandan sweetheart Nabulungi from Bon Jovi, to Neutrogena, to Nutella, to Nicki Minaj!  For those who haven’t seen the show before, this is a standing joke in each production and audience members eagerly await to see what the name changes will be as they are often not the same twice!  

The musical numbers are fantastic and this hard-working cast create memorable moments in literally every song.  “Hasa Diga Eebowai” has you joining in the catchy African rhythm – and then you learn what it means and pause for a second to check if everyone else was dancing along too!  “Turn It Off” makes great use of blackouts for maximum showbiz effect.  “Man Up” feeds every 1980’s rock ballad lovers appetite, and every Stars Wars, Star Trek and Lord Of The Rings fans appetites too come to that, with appearances by some Hobbits, a Trekker, Darth Vader and Yoda himself!  “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” is…….erm……well lets just say Hitler gets his jollies from the devil and OJ Simpsons Lawyer parties with skeletons clutching glazed donuts.  “I Believe” is hilarious as poor innocent Elder Price takes the Warlords hand and waves arms with him in time to the music.  He doesn’t stay innocent for long though when he is shown a really good place to keep his Mormon book!  

 


This cast, without exception, is fantastic.  Robert Colvin (Legally Blonde, Dirty Dancing, Grease) is utterly charming as the loveable but egocentric Elder Price.  Just like Andrew Reynolds in the original role, even though his character is somewhat selfish, you can’t help but love him.  He plays the adorable factor to perfection and his facial expressions and quick timing of all things showbiz make him born to play this role.  He also has the buttery vocals to melt anyone’s judgemental soul.

Connor Peirson (Book Of Mormon Broadway, Little Shop Of Horrors) rocks as Elder Cunningham.  He is as witty, natural, quirky and as downright brilliant as his original role maker Josh Gad.  He knows how to truly use his voice, not only to belt out some cracking songs, but for the best comic effect, and his energy is infectious.

Aviva Tulley (Brit School Graduate, Once On This Island) plays Nabulungi and is equally fierce, sweet, innocent and a leader.  She has a beautiful voice and is able to make you laugh and cry within one song.  She is very skilled in her craft.

 


And the award to the actor playing the most roles in a musical goes to……Jordan Lee Davies (Chicago, Sweet Charity, Joseph, Bat Out Of Hell).  Davies was outstanding in Book Of Mormon, playing Elder McKinley, Moroni, a devilish man whore, and multiple other parts, each with it’s own unique flare.  He quickly became an audience favourite every time he came on stage, and no wonder because he is incredibly talented.  Again, he played every part so that you just liked him and warmed to his charm.  His singing was fabulous and he led many a number throughout the entire show.

This is a large cast and there is not a weak link amongst them.  They all sing, dance, act, tap dance, shimmy and ring doorbells non stop from start to finish, and they all truly appear to be having so much fun, which is so relaxing for an audience and allows you to have fun with them.  There are a couple of edgier moments in the show, including when a villager is shot through the head.  I have seen this show before, but usually in seats quite far back so had never been close enough to actually see this up close and personal.  It stopped me in my tracks for a moment.  The effects were fantastically realistic – so realistic I was a little worried for a split second.  I don’t know how they did it but it really looked like a bullet had gone through his head as bits of it were blown off.  Quite grim really but intriguing at the same time.

 


I was clearly not the only one in tonight who had seen this show before as the audience were sometimes laughing before a joke had landed, and at one point, one lady even started shouting out advice to one of the characters – a bit of a cringe moment but I’m guessing she was a few bottles of wine in by that point.  Book Of Mormon is obviously building up a cult following and with so many catchy tunes, one liners, and “in jokes”, it’s easy to see why.  It may not be everybody’s cup of tea as it does sail close to the proverbial line on many occasions…..ok on almost every occasion - and the language is not exactly family friendly but it is also this recipe that is able to draw in those who would not be seen dead anywhere near a jazz hand under any other circumstances.  So when I do eventually meet my maker, they may be wearing red, but if Spooky Mormon Hell Dream is correct then they have a Starbucks down there, and sparkly top hats and jazz hands!  I mean, was I ever going to end up anywhere else?!


WE SCORE THE BOOK OF MORMON - 10/10    
 

 

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