I don’t think I have ever had such high expectations for a new musical. The Book of Mormon, written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Avenue Q’s co-writer Robert Lopez, has had so much hype around it, and I am happy to report that it lives up to all of it! Opening on Broadway in 2011, the musical finally made its way over to the UK this year, and I jumped at the chance to get tickets (under the pretext of my sister’s birthday present).
The Book of Mormon follows the story of two young Mormons, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who are sent to Uganda on their two year missionary duties. With big dreams about what they can achieve, the Elders (in particular Elder Price) are sorely disappointed when they find out that the Ugandans are much more worried about war, famine and AIDS than joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While Elder Price is disheartened and attempts to transfer to his dream place, Orlando, Elder Cunningham embellishes on the Book of Mormon to get the local village to join the Church, with great success. Joy, misfortune and a reinvention of the scriptures follow!
As can be expected from the writers of South Park, the Book of Mormon is highly satirical, not only of Mormonism, but of Africa and the musical as a genre. I was laughing the whole way through, and while much of the humour comes from sheer shock at the explicitness of the language, there are luckily clever and witty jokes as well. While the music is quite similar in most of the songs, I think this had the desired effect of both allowing the customary mash-ups of songs and also mocking the musical as a genre. The two leads were played by Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner, on (for want of a better word) loan from America. They were fantastic, and really stood out in terms of ‘peppiness’. Stephen Ashfield also deserves a mention, he was great at the closet gay District Leader of the Church. The rest of the cast was also very strong, and really threw themselves into the ludicrousness of the musical.
My favourite songs from the musical were ‘Man Up’, ‘Turn it Off’, and ‘Hello’. While all the songs were amazing, and really fitted the ridiculous nature of the musical, I found these the most entertaining.
Overall I really enjoyed the Book of Mormon, on my review notes I genuinely just wrote ‘SO GOOD’. It was fun, stupid, rude, and everything you would expect from a musical about Mormonism written by the creators of South Park. If you offend easily though, I probably wouldn’t recommend it… But otherwise do try to get tickets, I had such a great time, and I think you will too!