If you have seen some of the previews, you may think that this show is your classical musical comedy — not too unconventional — but just enough to make it appealing to the average musical viewer. But if you ever had a chance to see the show itself, you would know that “The Book of Mormon” is a jaw-dropping musical theater masterpiece.
Created by writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone of “South Park” and Robert Lopez of “Avenue Q,” “The Book of Mormon” has captivated audiences around the world since 2011. Now on its second U.S. National Tour, the show made a stop at the Academy of Music right here in Philadelphia. This was my second time seeing the show, and I can confidently say that it never fails to impress.
This hilarious story follows two incompatible Mormon missionaries, Elder Price (Liam Tobin) and Elder Cunningham (Jordan Matthew Brown,) as they travel to a remote Ugandan village to preach the Mormon religion to the locals. Thinking that Africa was going to be similar to how it was portrayed in “The Lion King,” the young men are extremely disappointed by what they encounter. However, they find hope in the fact that they can ultimately save the Ugandans by teaching them their religion and baptising as many as they can.
Price and Cunningham face some hardships when they realize that the locals, which include Nabulungi (Kayla Pecchioni) and Mafala (Jacques C. Smith,) are distracted by other important and pressing issues plaguing their village such as AIDS and oppression from warlords. Ultimately, Price and Cunningham have to figure out their own way to get Nabulungi, Mafala and the rest of the locals invested in their religion.
The show has multiple standout musical numbers. You may know “Hello” — the song that is on all of the commercials — in which various Mormons ring doorbells and ask people if they would like to learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There is also “You and Me (But Mostly Me,)” where Elder Price belts about how the both of them, but mostly him, are going to change the world. “Turn It Off” encapsulates the Mormons way of always being happy, and “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” gets special guest appearances by Genghis Khan, Jeffrey Dahmer, Hitler and Johnnie Cochran in Elder Price’s dream.
My personal favorite, however, has to be “Hasa Diga Eebowai.” Based on the shirts they were selling in the lobby with the phrase on it, this Ugandan chant number is clearly a crowd favorite. You could either look up its meaning or go see the show yourself, but I’d recommend the latter.
If you are a fan raunchy humor, lots of f-bombs and are looking for a not-so-typical musical theater experience, “The Book of Mormon” is definitely the show for you. Make sure to catch it at the Academy of Music until June 9.