Broadway Across Canada
The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone

Dates and Venue September 25 – 30, 2018; Tues through Sat evenings at 8pm, Sun evening 7:30pm and Satu and Sun matinees at 2pm | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer Erin Jane

While I am well-versed in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s other creations (South Park, Team America) and their unique brand of irreverence, I had never seen The Book of Mormon. I imagined it would be similarly off-beat, off-colour jokes laced with profanity and sharp political satire, mercilessly firing shots at all sides in true Parker/Stone style – and I was not wrong. The Book of Mormon tells a deeply brazen story of two young Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to preach the Mormon faith and convert new followers to the religion, but instead of a hospitable environment are met instead with Ugandans who are far more concerned with savage war lords, AIDS, and genital mutilation.

Somehow, writers Parker and Stone along with collaborating writer Robert Lopez manage to entertain without crossing the line into offensiveness. Their incredibly perverse and odd-ball sense of humour is taken to all new heights of glamour and showmanship in The Book of Mormon, with high-energy dance numbers, larger-than-life costumes and elaborate stage set-up, along with a full chorus of incredibly talented dancers and singers.

The choreography (by Casey Nicholaw) features awesomely exaggerated, cartoonish dancing paired with over-the-top enthusiasm, and it’s hard not to enjoy watching Ron Bohmer (as Joseph Smith) thrusting his hips from side to side to the beat of “All-American Prophet”, one of the most enjoyable numbers of the show. And the tap dancing featured in “Turn It Off” is a perfect complement to its lyrics, pertaining to the practice of “turning off” any negative or upsetting feelings while putting on a morbidly big smile.

Elder Cunningham, one of the two lead Mormons, is played very endearingly by the delightful Conner Peirson. Peirson has a likeable “young Meatloaf” quality, and while his character is arguably the underdog, Peirson really shines in this role. Elder Price is played by Kevin Clay, who gives a flawless, polished performance.

My favourite number by far was “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” which essentially features a 19-year-old Mormon’s idea of hell, complete with Hitler performing sex acts and Jesus himself calling you a dick. This number really spotlights the incredible stage set-up (Scenic Design by Scott Pask, Lighting Design by Brian MacDevitt). Also deserving of a shout out is the very talented Kayla Pecchioni who plays Nabulungi. Pecchioni’s vocal chops are impressive, and she can really belt it out as well as excelling in softer, more tender moments (“Baptize Me”).

There wasn’t a lot about this production that I didn’t like - Broadway Across Canada’s The Book Of Mormon truly entertains from beginning to end. I’ll admit there were times I felt some of the jokes were overly silly and over-played, and became less funny with each callback (“I’ve got maggots in my scrotum”, I felt, did not need to be tacked on to the end of otherwise extremely enjoyable and well-designed songs, no disrespect to the talented Andre-Chance Goddard who was burdened with having to interject this line multiple times throughout the play as the madcap Doctor. In spite of this, it still got laughs each time).

Please, do not let your sense of propriety prevent you from seeing The Book Of Mormon. Its trademark offensiveness is offset by its over-the-top delivery, and easily forgiven since no-one is really spared being the butt of their jokes. And truly, its story is very nearly an homage to the spirit and dedication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with a strong subtext of positivity and respecting one another.

© 2018 Erin Jane