Currently New York City and Los Angeles have one very big thing in common, the hottest ticket in town. The Book of Mormon opened at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood earlier this month and is running a muck through November. There is so much hype around this practically sold out run in Los Angeles, that as soon as the lights went down and the orchestra struck the first note the whole theater erupted in excitement. The hilarity that followed did not disappoint. Though at times the Matt Stone and Trey Parker humor that has become famous through “South Park” did go on a little long the musical lived up to the media frenzy it has created.
The subject is one many people can relate to, religion and those who take themselves much too seriously. The opening number “Hello” which features dozens of Mormons ringing on door bells selling the word of Christ as the Mormons see it get the audience laughing and hooked from the very beginning. The story follows two young Mormons, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as they are assigned to Uganda, Africa to preach the word to the citizens there. The story becomes completely absurd, peppered with reality, as the Mormons come face to face with a vicious general, pessimistic Africans and the reality of doubting their faith as they have always known it. With no ability to do the story justice and not wanting to ruin the jewels of the plot I will leave the rest unsaid.
Parker and Stone teamed up with Robert Lopez of the Broadway smash hit “Avenue Q” to create the newest Broadway phenomenon. Full of upbeat songs, crazy dance numbers (all with rather feminine hand gestures and high kicks) it is a solid musical. The script seems to be well written, but in all honesty it was at times hard to understand. The songs, especially those sung by the actors playing the Africans, were hard to make out, over the extremely loud orchestra. I was sitting in the balcony so perhaps a closer seat does the lyrics and words justice. Listening to the soundtrack later I was able to catch some of the witty words and only then truly appreciated the hilarity of this absurd but fun show.
(“Hello” as presented at the 2012 Tony Awards)
Overall the cast is phenomenal. Full of Broadway veterans, including Tony Nominated Gavin Creel, the songs and dance numbers are big, fun and well performed. Jared Gertner is loveable as the socially awkward Elder Cunningham, especially in the number “Man Up”. The whole cast knows the audience is paying around $100 a seat, so they make it worth it. This production is mostly sold out and the entire tour itself will most likely do the same. I suggest if you would like to see this show to book it now. The tour is just beginning, so check here to see the cities it will be coming to. Overall, if you are a fan of raunchy and inappropriate humor, making fun of real people then go for it; you will laugh your head off. If you are like me and find yourself turning a “South Park” episode off after maybe 10 minutes, you will still find it funny, but may get tired during the drawn out second act. However, if you are easily offended, DO NOT SEE THIS SHOW. It is politically incorrect and extremely explicit, it is not a show to take your children to, but it is a show that everyone will be talking about for years to come. It is up to you if you wish to be a part of that conversation.