Jan 7th, 2018
Fun Fact: The Book of Mormon was created by South Park legends, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Their outrageous musical is celebrating its seventh year on Broadway, while the South Park series is onto its twenty-second season! Robert Lopez was also instrumental in the Book, Music and Lyrics behind The Book of Mormon, he has had a successful career writing music for Disney films and the acclaimed musical Avenue Q, which is also genius and well worth seeing! Lopez is currently working on the anticipated musical, Frozen. There will be no cussing or cursing in that production though...
Target Audience: As far as the light can reach! Despite the crass approach, this musical is genius and every department is world class! If you can't catch it on Broadway, go see it on tour around the USA! While The Book of Mormon pokes fun, it certainly entices profound thought about the current state of affairs on planet earth.
Best Bit: I could not get enough of adorable Nic Rouleau, unpredictable Brian Sears, sweet Nikki Renee Daniels, sassy Stephen Ashfield and brilliant Billy Eugene Jones. In fact, all the outrageous Elders and Ugandans were phenomenal - I loved every minute! If I HAD to choose a favorite moment, it would be Stephen Ashfield (Elder McKinley) in "Turn It Off". But honestly, I could write an entire review on every performer.
Morning After Effect: Can I go back every Sunday?
The first weekend of 2018 saw bitterly cold days following the winter bomb cyclone that dumped snow throughout the city, and as life goes, we had a friend in town eager to see the sites of New York. After about two hours in the cold I had a "Come to Jesus" moment and decided it was time to see the greatly acclaimed musical, The Book of Mormon. After all, this provocative Broadway production has been running since March 2011 - making it one of New York's "must see" attractions.
On entry to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, we saw the grand Proscenium and a warm glow from the stainless glass windows, enticing us to shout "Hallelujah" as we thawed in this cozy heaven. Scott Pask's set design continues to amaze throughout the production taking us on an adventure from the "Mormon Training Center" in Salt Lake City to the decrepit Ugandan village in Africa. This is no easy task shifting between these parallel worlds and yet he achieves this with tremendous success AND, to add to the challenge, he takes us to the most hysterical and terrifying dream sequence which appears and disappears at lighting fast speed. Pask is undoubtedly deserving of his Tony win in 2011 for Best Scenic Design of a Musical.
Ann Roth's costume design is equally prolific! As we meet the Mormon Missionaries, the Elders, we see they are all different in stature and personality yet their black pants and tie, white button downs, and name tags instantly set the tone for a "uniformed mindset" that has been primped and primed for these young men heading out into the world. A vast contrast to the mismatched costumes seen in Africa. Though their clothes are torn and tattered they reveal the characters' personalities and the world they live in, giving them a sense of honest expression. Ann Roth has been a major contributor in Costume Designer earning her an Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Her incredible talent and artistry can be seen in every scene of this production!
Golden boy Elder Price (played by Nic Rouleau) and delinquent Elder Cunningham (played by Brian Sears) are paired together as the new recruits sent to the Ugandan village. Starry eyed and ready to change the world they are met with a dead donkey being dragged through the streets, and to their delight a group of Elders who have yet to baptize (aka convert) a single local. Rouleau and Cunningham prove to be a powerful pair, both as their characters and through their performances.
Up to this point, Director Trey Parker and Co-Director, and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, have had these young men moving in unison just as you might see a battalion running drills. However, when we meet the Elders in Africa lead by Elder McKinley (played by Stephen Ashfield) we start to see the individual differences creeping out in their movements. This is also reiterated smartly by Ann Roth's costume design as each boy has replaced the uniformed black tie with a colorful local print.
By this stage you have laughed so much you can't imagine that the show creators Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez can keep the momentum, but they sure do! Ashfield reassures the newcomers that everything is going to be okay and they will feel better tomorrow, with the hilarious song "Turn It Off". The Elders join in and magically appear with flashy sequin vests which is a contradiction to the lyrics they sing about smothering any homosexual tendencies or thoughts. And so, the cracks start to show.
Parker, Stone and Lopez have created the most offensive and crude musical, lashing out insults and stereotypes throughout. Judging by their success on the Great White Way and the raucous laughter from the audience, this production proves that we all need to laugh at the absurdity of life and remove the labels from people, before we can truly find our own piece of heaven.
The Book of Mormon is one of the best musicals I have ever seen! Every actor, and I mean EVERY actor is fantastic! Each Elder exudes a naive charm and infomercial type expression throughout the production as they try to "sell" their religion knocking on doors - these young men will have you crying with laughter while the Ugandan ensemble will have you in stitches with jaw dropping astonishment!
If heaven promises to "have it all", then The Book of Mormon is paradise on Broadway - populated with the naughty and nice!
View our show pages for more information about Book of Mormon, Eugene O'Neill Theatre.
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