Theater Review: The Book of Mormon returns | Buzz Blog

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Theater Review: The Book of Mormon returns

The local audience again goes wild for sacrilegious tunefulness.

Posted By on August 3, 2017, 8:58 AM

  • Pin It
    Favorite
click to enlarge monica_l._patton_ryan_bondy_cody_jamison_strand_-_the_book.jpg
When the smash Broadway musical The Book of Mormon made its Utah debut in 2015, you could feel the electricity in the audience of a crowd knowing that, wherever this show might have been born, it belonged to them. Two years later, that feeling still crackles its way through a new venue, the Eccles Theater.

It's there every time a song lyric or an idea hits a raw nerve in  this show about Mormon missionaries Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs) and Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson) and their adventures in Uganda. Potential convert Nabulungi (Myha'la Herrold) imagines "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" as a place where "I'll bet the people are open minded," and the audience explodes; closeted missionary Elder McKinley (PJ Adzima) counsels about repressing feelings in "Turn It Off," and you can hear the knowing chuckles. Even the progressive ex-Mormons in the crowd might squirm a bit when the story of Joseph Smith gets scatalogical enhancements from the fib-prone Elder Cunningham, but there's never any doubt that this show is preaching to its choir.

The material itself is so satisfying that it's not always easy to recognize what any particular production and cast brings to that material. Herrold offers the strongest voice in her beautiful (but still hilarious) solo in "Sal Tlay Ka Siti," while Peirson finds his own angle on Cunningham's manic eagerness-to-please in the trail blazed by the role's originator, Josh Gad. Choreography might not play as prominent a role here as in some other musicals, but the ensemble does terrifically energetic dance work to complement the gleefully profane lyrics, most notably when the Ugandan missionaries go full glitz during "Turn It Off."

What remains impressive about The Book of Mormon is that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone (along with musical collaborator Robert Lopez) are sneaking a pro-religion message—about the power of metaphorical stories to give troubled people comfort and strength—into their heresies. If not every member of a Salt Lake City audience is ready to embrace that message, it's understandable. They can simply revel in references that come with a special added oomph for those who have lived in this state, or in this faith. Maybe gathering with others to hear Elder Price announce "I Believe" becomes part of an alternate kind of religious service: a united moment of euphoria and shared values. All that, plus an X-ray of a Book of Mormon shoved up somebody's ass.

On Topic...

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Buzz Blog

  • Utah’s Bright and Shining Future

    SLC youth join thousands of students from around the world to demand action on climate change.
    • Mar 15, 2019
  • This Is the End, My Friend

    Conversion therapy! Fornication! Slavery! A venomous lizard not native to our state! 2019 Legislature reaches feverish conclusion.
    • Mar 15, 2019
  • Latter-day Paints

    Church History Museum showcases Jesus-approved art in 11th international competition.
    • Mar 12, 2019
  • More »

Comments (641)

Showing 1-50 of 641

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-50 of 641

Add a comment

© 2019 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation