There’s no two ways about it, THE BOOK OF MORMON is outrageous, rude and offensive. They are positive comments by the way. It’s also absolutely hilarious and surprisingly endearing.
Finally, the show is here and the Wales Millennium Centre was packed with an audience as eager to get back into a live show as much as they were to see the rescheduled tour of TBOM. And boy was it everything we hoped for, and even more.
If you think you’re getting a slightly watered down version of the sell-out, multi award-winning West End production, then think again. This is as good, or dare we say, even better in some respects. It’s bold and bright and will have you smiling, singing, and laughing at some of the most inappropriate lines you’ll ever hear – and they’re all brilliant.
It’s way too easy to think this pokes cheap fun at Mormons, the show however is far more subtle than that, and incredibly clever. It has the strange effect of making you curious about their work, and indeed you come away strangely liking Mormons.
From the moment the lights dim, and the statue angel, standing high above the arched stage, trumpets the start of the show you are drawn in to this glorious story.
Yes it is hugely inappropriate in places, but that’s its brilliance. It’s not crude or irreverent just for the hell of it, the messages are very clear, and subtly delivered, in some of the most catchy, and superbly performed songs you’ll hear – just listen to lyrics of ‘Turn It Off.’
Nothing is safe in this cleverly written show. Whether it’s Disney – in particular The Lion King, the Book itself (of course), but in reality this show takes a long hard swipe at Americans and organised religion generally.
This musical comedy from creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez co-writer of Avenue Q and Frozen, follows the story of two young Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, working to spread the word of the Latter Day Saints to the locals in a small town in Uganda.
The LDS church members realise how daunting their task is when they discover the villagers are more concerned with the AIDS epidemic, oppression, and starvation. I think if you take a look at the trailer you’ll get the gist…..
By now you’ve no doubt guessed we are huge fans of The Book Of Mormon, and this productions delivers in every respect, but what did last nights audience think of the show? We took time to ask a few of them as we left the theatre.
We also spoke to some real life Mormons, who have vowed to be outside the WMC at the end of each performance. As we left the building, there was a line of ‘Elders’ waiting to greet us with copies of the book and a welcoming ‘chat.’
It is very strange walking out the WMC doors to see a long line of Mormons in front of you, it’s almost like the cast have crept out to greet you. As we said though, they were nothing but welcoming and friendly to the people we saw them interact with.
And that brings us to the real life cast. This is a full on, non-stop, all singing and dancing piece, and each and every performer on stage works twice as hard to keep us entertained.
It is an ensemble piece for sure, but we do want to mention the two leads, Robert Colvin who is Elder Price and Conner Peirson, Elder Cunningham.
TBOM is the story of these two Elders’ who are mismatched in every way. Despite wishing for a glamorous posting in Orlando, Elder Price ends up on a mission to Uganda along with his new partner Cunningham, a flighty, daydreaming Elder who you will fall in love with in a heartbeat.
Be in no doubt that Conner is a show-stealer, his boundless energy fills the stage from the second he enters to say ‘hello!‘ His characters childlike innocence, and reckless behaviour will have you laughing from the very first moment. He’s also pretty hot on the baptism front too.
There are many stand out moments, Baptise Me being one, which Conner plays with Aviva Tulley. The Turn It Off scene is so well choreographed, with each Elder adding their part to the piece, Jordan Lee Davies as Elder McKinley however, is particularly impressive.
And when we enter the Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, it’s then you really feel you’re in the mind of Parker and Stone.
Those of us who are secret fans of SOUTH PARK will remember the episode, ‘All About Mormons’ back in 2003. It was that episode which inspired Trey and Matt, to come up with THE BOOK OF MORMON. That episode alone was voted the best from the show’s seventh series. The South Park creators found it difficult to poke fun at the religion due to how friendly and nice Mormons generally are. The pair allegedly visited Salt Lake City in Utah to carry out research for the show.
If you’re familiar with any of the other work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone you’ll know what THE BOOK OF MORMON is going to deliver. Having said that, the musical has never received any backlash from members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The Mormon Church even said the musical may be “entertaining for a day.” In fact the church used the musical’s high-profile platform to its advantage and frequently advertised in the show’s programmes with such lines as “You’ve seen the play, now read the book” and “the book is always better.”
Robert Lopez co-created the Broadway musical Avenue Q and co-wrote the songs for Disney’s Frozen and Coco. His catalogue of work is incredible. He is one of only fifteen artists to win all four major entertainment awards – Emmy®, Grammy®, Oscar® and Tony® Awards.
Opening in 2011 on Broadway to rave reviews, The Book of Mormon transferred to the West End in 2013 where it won four Olivier Awards including Best New Musical.
As you can imagine the cast were desperate to get back on stage and do what they do best. At the annual West End Live in London’s Trafalgar Square earlier this month, they gave a special performance to a damp, but nevertheless eager crowd.
Baptise Me is one of our favourite songs from the show – enjoy.
The lyrics are guaranteed to have you weeping with laughter with catchy little tunes like…. ‘All American Prophet,’ ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,’ ‘Baptise Me,’ ‘Tomorrow Is a Latter Day’ and ‘I Believe.’ The choreography however, is another level. When you see the show you’ll see what we mean. It definitely brings an extra shot of levity to an already highly entertaining show.
The BOOK has smashed long-standing box office records in New York, London, Melbourne, Sydney and cities across the U.S. Since making its world premiere in March 2011 at New York’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it won nine Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, it has been performed on three continents and won over thirty international awards.
The London production opened in February 2013, winning four Olivier Awards® including Best New Musical, and breaking the record for the highest single day of sales in West End history. It has sold out every one of its 2783 performances to date at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Now finally we get to see it on its first ever, long overdue tour of the UK.
These great pictures are from Paul Coltas…..
THE BOOK OF MORMON is at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff till Saturday 30th October. That is the rescheduled date and existing ticket holders have already had theirs moved across.
Prices start at £15.50 and you can either get yours from the box office on 02920-636464 or just go here. MORMON