“The Book of Mormon”, book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone.
My friend, Linda, in her on-going efforts to keep us up to date with theater wonderment, spearheaded the procurement of tickets to “The Book of Mormon” for us this weekend. This is a production that has been around now for a couple of years and seems to be perpetually sold out wherever it plays. This afternoon (Sunday, February 10, 2013) was clearly no exception as the four of us slogged through heavy, wet slush to get to the Orpheum Theatre from our parking ramp. The people came in bus loads for what promised to be a funny romp and stomp over the most well known religious practices of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as Mormons.
I’ll start out with a warning / disclaimer. If you are easily offended, have a dark attitude toward foul language, are deeply serious or spiritual or simply unable / unwilling to see comic relief in most every daily interaction we partake in, I suggest this is not the show for you.
If you’re still reading, I assume you’ve decided you’re game for all the above. The show is really irreverent and makes very heavy use of parody. In my view there were also several scenes, at the location of “call” that Elder Price and Elder Cunningham find themselves after training, that have so much actual and referred human misery on a daily basis it becomes difficult to laugh, even at the over-the-top raunchy jokes and musical lines. With that said, I can see the humor in almost anything and parodies of religion accompanied by bad language don’t bother me in the least.
I was very pleased with the cast of Mormon Elders “in training”. They were, with one exception, handsome, slender, talented singers and dancers…the picture of my expectation for door-to-door Mormon salesmen. The one exception, Elder Cunningham, was not slender, but he stole the show with quick, flexible witty delivery of his comic lines and had a very flexible tenor voice to boot. He clearly has the talent and energy to be in the top trio for the show, but I was even more impressed when I read that this show was his professional theater debut. I believe we will see much more of Christopher John O’Neill.
Mark Evans is a singer / actor with many credits to his name and I believe the Book of Mormon will be another star added. He brought energy, terrific dance moves, a marvelous and expressive face and beautiful delivery of prose and verse to the other star role as Elder Price. To round out my top trio in this play, Samantha Marie Ware, as Nabulungi at the Elder’s “call”, did a great job as the local enthusiasm builder and “text” junkie. She was a talented singer as well, but suffered from some high register flatting that might have been associated with the sound system, as I mention later.
The production itself was quite good. I loved the costumes for the song “Turn It Off Like A Light Switch”. Let’s just say that the quick addition of color to the black pants, white shirt, black tie was a real surprise and looked fabulous! The song is a great little lesson in how to keep all those pesky emotions organized and controlled. The setting for the “call” also provided opportunity for several costume changes. Baptismal white was one of my favorites. The only fault I have for the production is that the sound seemed like maybe it was pushing the limit of the speakers. There was some distortion that made it difficult to understand the words at times.
Finally, I always enjoy visiting the Orpheum Theatre. It’s a classic beauty and was wonderfully restored about 25 years ago. The beauty of the massive chandelier, suspended by a single chain, is always a thing of marvel for me.
However, the comfort of the seats leave much to be desired and I sincerely hope that the next restoration takes into account theater goers need for a little additional leg room and proper back support.
If you don’t have tickets yet, check out the Hennepin Theatre Trust Box Office. I understand there is a lottery for a few $25 tickets prior to each show. You need to be there and respond really fast if your name is called!