Monday, April 11, 2011

"The Book of Mormon - The Musical"

 {All initial images via}
I should tell you all up front that I am not a religious person - in all honesty I find organized religion distasteful, and very different from "having faith." (I am very much a woman of provable facts, if I can see it, I'll believe it but I tend to brush off the other stuff.) However, I know many people derive comfort from their religions, and in spite of our claims of differentiation, religion has a stranglehold on half of the political system of our state here in America, so I find it invariably refreshing when the arts, ranging from museum exhibits, to books, art shows to plays, take a good-natured jab at the institution. Which was precisely the case with Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Broadway debut, "The Book of Mormon - The Musical"
Best known as being the creators of South Park, Parker and Stone have made a strong foray into the world of musical theater. With a storyline strong in its subversive subject matter - there were good highlights made about exposure to all cultures, reality of facts of life versus the idealized mental state of being a believer in a higher power. There was also a lot of use of the word "fuck" which, I took to have been intended be added subversion, but which really just came across as humdrum and overbearingly low-brow. Moreover, however, this is a strong musical, with a decent book, and a wonderful cast.
To call out only a few members of this cast seems almost unfair because the entire ensemble made for a memorable evening. Still, I would be remiss to at least not highlight the leads. Andrew Rannell's "Elder Price" was a knockout - strong vocally, he also fleshed out a character that truly had an arc throughout the show and came out stronger for his experiences. Josh Gad's "Elder Cunningham" was a bit one-dimensional, especially next to his fellow lead, but provided comic relief in a broad characterization of a social outcast trying desperately to fit in. Nikki M. James' "Nabulungi" was magnificent - played with an earnestness and culminating in strength derived a slap-in-the-face dose of reality, she provided a focus for hope in the storyline, and her characteristically power-house vocals made for chills during her solo numbers.
 {Image via}
Scott Pask's set design was wonderful - versatile and beautifully detailed, it made for a magnificent backdrop and aided immensely in bringing the storyline to life. Ann Roth's costumes were exactly what they needed to be for their lead characters, and branched out considerably into the flamboyant, and the hysterical as the scenes allowed. The lighting design by Brain MacDevitt was equally mesmerizing, effective when called for, and transporting into peace, panic and isolation as the characters continued on in their journey. Brian Ronan's sound design was equally transporting, and all four individuals' work in the "Scary Mormon Hell Dream" sequence came together to create a truly fantastic scene - one of which they should all be proud!
 {Image via}
In all, you would do well to go see this show. Following in the footsteps of "Avenue Q" this show will most certainly be a contender during Tony's season, its soundtrack will have you humming long after you've left the theater, and the cast is truly a sight to behold, as well as to hear.

"The Book of Mormon - The Musical" plays at the Eugene O'Neill Theater, 230 W 49th Street. Call the box office or buy tickets here.

1 comment:

  1. Really want to see this after watching them on the Daily Show. Agree with your points about religion too!