By: Patrick E. Phillips ~Arts & Entertainment Editor~
“The Book of Mormon” has it all: dazzling choreography, amazing effects and off-the-wall comedy.
However, the appreciation of this Tony Award winning musical can be lost if the audience is not willing to appreciate the production’s satirical elements.
Elder Price (Mark Evans) dreams of being the greatest Mormon ever but struggles when he and his nerdy mission companion, Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O’Neill), are sent to do their mission work in Uganda. On their journey, they confront a genocidal warlord and the devastating living conditions of the Ugandan people. The musical is true to its creators’ roots.
“The Book of Mormon” is the creation of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the 17-season running comedy, “South Park” on Comedy Central, along with the musical talents of Robert Lopez, co-composer and co-lyricist for the Tony Award winning “Avenue Q.”
That being said, audiences should expect some rather obscene jokes.
However, the creators instill a great amount of heart in the musical, allowing audiences to understand the plight of the characters through easy, toe-tapping melodies. There is not a moment in the show without laughter from the audience.
Whether it’s Elder Cunningham’s obsession with “best friend” Elder Price, Nabalungi (Samantha Marie Ware) “texting” everyone with an old typewriter or Darth Vader and Hobbits making cameo appearances during numbers, “The Book of Mormon” is one of the smartest comedies gracing the stage.
The choreography is stylized and precise, playing a role in both the visual and comedic elements of the production. Most notable on this front is “Turn It Off,” a tap number where the Mormon ensemble danced for a moment in the dark wearing glittering pink vests.
The passion and drive of each character gives meaning to the production’s obscenity. Ware portrays Nabalungi’s longing for a better life for herself and her people during “Sal Tlay Ka Siti.”
Though “Hasa Diga Ebowai” is one of the most outrageous songs ever created, it displays the devastation of the Ugandan people and displays the challenge set before Elder Price and Elder Cunningham. “The Book of Mormon” is outrageously funny, but the audience must allow themselves to see past the up-front jokes.
This is the only pitfall of the production. Because it is so racy and grandiose in its vulgarity, “The Book of Mormon” can very easily close off audience members and lead them out the door at intermission.
Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez have created a comedic masterpiece like none ever seen before. Enter the theater ready for anything.
“The Book of Mormon” is currently running Jan. 22 – 26 in the Proctor & Gamble Hall in the Aronoff Center. For ticket information, go to http://www.cincinnati.broadway.com