Damon Bradley Jang
Vancouver Theatre Critic
Broadway Across Canada brings back by popular demand The Book Of Mormon to open its 2018/ 2019 season in Vancouver.
The Book of Mormon( winner of 9 TONY AWARDS) is a musical comedy. First staged in 2011, the play makes light of various Mormon beliefs and practices, but ultimately endorses the positive power of love and service. The script, lyrics, and music were written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone were best known for creating the animated comedy South Park; Lopez had co-written the music for the musical Avenue Q.
The Book of Mormon follows two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to preach the Mormon religion to the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. The earnest young men are challenged by the lack of interest of the locals, who are preoccupied with more pressing troubles such as AIDS, famine, and oppression from local warlords.
Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker with choreography by Nicholaw, the show is a send-up and homage to many classic and contemporary popular musicals, with rousing musical earworms like "Turn It Off" a song about repressing unpleasant thoughts, "Two By Two" a delightfully high energy number involving the missionaries partner and mission assignments and of course the blissfully offensive ""Hasa Diga Eebowai", a kind of Hakuna Matta style song, but you have to hear for yourself.
This touring company includes a relatively solid team of performers, some Broadway/ National tour veterans and some fresh faces.
Playing our two lead missionaries are Kevin Clay (Elder Price) and Conner Pierson (Elder Cunningham). Clay, who is making his national tour debut, has a good voice but comes off as a bit of an Andrew Rannells replica, while Pierson does have a lot of Josh Gad like qualities, makes numerous organic choices to his portrayal of Cunningham.
The ensemble of talent playing the Ugandans is solid in voice and dance especially the vocals of Kayla Pecchioni and Jacques. C.Smith. What is unfortunate is that their American accents slip through their Africans which is a really minor point, but it's consistent enough to be noticeable.
Elder Mckinly is played by Andy Huntington Jones who you might recognize as the Munkastrap in the recent Broadway Revival of CATS. His take on the repressed homosexual is refreshing. His acting choices are subtle, but his comedic timing is so quick that when we see moments of flamboyance, it creates a great contrast.
I have to give a special to Kenny Francoeur as dance captain. His work kept the show looking as clean and precise as the current Broadway company which I had a chance to see last summer.
The show is the perfect musical to bring people who don't like musicals. There is enough "SNL style" humor that it will keep anyone entertained. Providing they are not easily offended.
The run is nearly sold out but for information on the tour schedule visit here.