On July 30th I attended Broadway’s smash sensational musical The Book of Mormon on tour at The Forrest Theater. Before I get into my review of the production, let me just tell you a few incredible facts about this glorious sensation of a show! First, this musical, which is still running on Broadway, has won some nine TONY Awards, including: Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, yes the lyricist for Disney’s Frozen, and Matt Stone), Best Book (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Direction (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker), Best Featured Actress (Nikki M. James), Best Scenic Design (Scott Pask), Best Lighting Design (Brian MacDevitt), Best Sound Design (Brian Ronan), and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus). Also, The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album; four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, and the Drama League Award for Best Musical. Wow! That is a TON of awards, this is very rare for musicals to score this many awards in one season, so The Book of Mormon is very lucky!
Now let me get into the show! I really had vague knowledge of the storyline, as I had only heard the album and just knew what was talked about in those songs. This was one of the greatest shows I think I have seen in a while. This is a very heavy dance musical, and it was very hot in the theater (they didn’t turn on the air!); even so, the cast was on their game. The hit every move and note spot on, even though they were covered in sweat. This musical was written by the creators of the hit animated TV show South Park, so just from that phrase alone you know it is not going to be your average musical... and it isn’t! I mean that in a good way, this show takes A LOT of risks in all sorts of ways, and the topic matter is one you usually don’t see on Broadway. So, I am just putting this out there now, DO NOT BRING YOUR KIDS TO THIS SHOW! Honestly, this is an adult show and unless you want young kids to be exposed to the language, sex, and more, I would leave them at home! Okay, so now that all the disclaimers and such are covered, let me give you a brief synopsis of the show.
The Book of Mormon tells the story of two young missionaries who are sent to Uganda to try to convert citizens to the Mormon religion. One missionary, Elder Price, is an enthusiastic go-getter with a strong dedication to his faith, while his partner, Elder Cunningham, is a socially awkward but well-meaning nerd whose tendency to embroider the truth soon lands him in trouble. Upon their arrival in Africa, Elders Price and Cunningham learn that in a society plagued by AIDS, poverty and violence, a successful mission may not be as easy as they expected.(Broadway.com). It really is a show that should not be missed. If you want a night out of the house for a date night, this is definitely the right show to see! Just remember, it does have rough subject matter, but it is all in good fun! Also, for those of you who are like myself, and enjoy meeting the cast after the show, there IS a stage door! It is behind the theater, you have to go down the side alley, and make your first left, you will then hit it! A friend and I met the entire cast after the show, they were so grateful we came, and signed are stuff for us!
Now let me get into the members of the cast who I liked, and which songs were the best. First off, KJ Hippensteel (Elder Price) the handsome, and bodacious, leading man was freaking phenomenal! He had just joined the cast after being on Broadway as the standby for Elder Price. He blew me away, his voice, comedic ability, and dancing were out of this world. He wowed the crowd in his solo song, I Believe, in which he says he believes, as a Mormon, he can make a difference with the Ugandan people. Also, Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, the second number of Act II, was my favorite! This is with him and the rest of the ensemble; it is a nightmare he is having about being sent to hell because he leaves his mission companion, and how they are damning him for breaking Rule 72 in the Mormon faith. I really liked him in this role, they did such a good job casting it! (side note- when I often listen to a cast album of a show, I usually go into the show expecting it to sound like what I heard, and if not I get really picky, not in this case though!) Christopher John O’Neil (Elder Cunningham), who plays the quirky, nerdy, not so truthful mission companion to Elder Price was very good as well! He has been with the 1st National Tour for a good bit, and every night he performs as if it is opening night! Baptize Me (in which he sings with Nabulungi) was sweet, passionate, and funny. He is getting ready to baptize her, but they make the lyrics sound like they are getting ready to do something else, which is totally the opposite. Man Up, which is the Act I finale song that he sings by himself and then the cast joins in on, was also really good as well! He is proclaiming in this song that he is going to “man up” and not be afraid anymore! As a musical theater buff, this song is my favorite because it goes into different parts, melodies, and harmonies. Very nicely done! Alexandra Ncube (Nabulungi), who is making her tour debut, was fabulous in this role. I was really hesitant to see how this role was going to be done, because I am so used to hearing the wonderful Nikki M. James perform all of these songs, as she originated this role on Broadway. But Alexandra proved me wrong, and outdid herself! DAMMMMN! Does this girl have chops! She belts out her solo song, Sal Tlay Ka Siti, in which she emotionally sings about finding the place Salt Lake City, UT and picturing how much better it would be than where they are now. It is quite beautiful! She belts out to her highest in Hasa Diga Eebowai Reprise, a song which I had just discovered while watching this show! Again, the harmony and riffing in this song made the hairs on my neck stand up! She had the crowd busting out laughing in Joseph Smith American Moses, where she and her people tell the story (which was made up, and falsely told by Elder Cunningham) to the Mormon President who comes to visit… let’s just say that he was in for more than he bargained for! The rest of the cast was great and all did a phenomenal job!
The remaining cast consisted of Stanley Wayne Mathis (Mafala Hatimbi), who was also in the Broadway company! Corey Jones (General), Grey Henson (Elder McKinley), he rocked in his song Turn it Off , he really made it his own. There is a surprise in that number that I can’t give away either! Ron Bohmer, Colin Bradbury, Josh Breckenridge, JR Bruno, Michael Buchanan, Dayna Jarae Dantzler, Trevon Davis, Kelechi Ezie, Logan Hart, Jeff Heimbrock, Carole Denise Jones, Tyler Jones, Trevor Leaderbrand, Daniel LeClaire, Antyon Le Monte, Adam Levinskas, Laionna Michelle, Dimitri Joseph Moise, Kevin Michael Murphy, Dana Joel Nicholson, Lacretta Nicole, Tyrone Robinson, Kristopher Thompson-Bolden, Jamaal Wilson, Jonathan Cullen (Standby for Elder Cunningham), and C.J. Eldred (Standby for Elder Price). Great job again everyone!
Again, I cannot stress how important it is that you go see this show before it is GONE! It is almost impossible to get tickets for the Broadway production, and tour tickets go fast, so hurry! They also do a lottery 2 ½ hours prior to the show where you can get tickets purchased for as low as $25. Must have a valid ID, and must be present at time of drawing! That is a little incentive to help you all go see it!
The Book of Mormon runs from July 29-September 14 at The Forrest Theatre, visit www.telecharge.com for tickets. You can keep up with The Book of Mormon and more on Facebook: /TheBookofMormonOnBroadway Twitter: @BookofMormon, #LoveMormon, and Instagram @Bookof Mormon. Also visit their website at www.BookofMormonTheMusical.com , continue to keep up with me on my website at www.ThePositivityProject.org . I can be found on social networks as well! Twitter: @RyeTheNewsGuy, Facebook: /ThePositivityProject1 and Instagram: @OfficialRyeMy “Encourage. Inspire. Empower”