For once, all the hype about a musical is true. THE BOOK OF MORMON deserves all the accolades it has received since 2011 – and then some. Originally the brainchild of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez in 2003, it took seven years of slow but steady development before the show took its final form. With book, music, and lyrics by the trio, THE BOOK OF MORMON was finally born on Broadway in 2011, becoming a smash hit with nine Tony Awards (and lots of nominations) under its belt, including the coveted Best Musical. THE BOOK OF MORMON even won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Matt Stone described the musical as “an atheist’s love letter to religion;” and the show proved to offer both entertainment and monetary treasure as a satire about religion – more specifically, about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As of July 27, 2019, THE BOOK OF MORMON was the fourteenth longest-running Broadway show. The official Mormon Church response was reportedly that “…the production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” When asked about the church’s possible response to the good-natured ribbing, Trey Parker and Matt Stone reported, “They were cool.”
When the youthful Elder Kevin Price (Liam Tobin) is matched up with the even more immature Elder Arnold Cunningham (Jordan Matthew Brown) for their mandatory Mormon two-year mission, neither expected to be sent to Uganda. In fact, the supercilious missionary-to-be Price had planned on making his historic mark in Orlando, Florida, the home of dreams. But Uganda it is, for the mission of a lifetime. It turns out that a local warlord, General Butt-Fucking Naked (Corey Jones) is running the show in their corner of the country. It also happens that the Ugandan villagers are less than enchanted with yet another set of missionaries invading their home. Even the pretty, nubile Nabulungi (Alyah Chanelle Scott) has her misgivings. What to do about this sad state of affairs? You’ll have to see, enjoy, and laugh at the show yourself as you toe-tap and hum along with a very talented group of performers to find out what happens. Suffice it to say that – in the course of an uproarious evening – the Book of Mormon may be renamed.
Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker with musical supervision and vocal arrangements by Stephen Oremus, THE BOOK OF MORMON is almost the perfect musical. The talented and enthusiastic cast is excellent. The entire production team does a bang-up job of scenic design (Scott Pask), costumes (Ann Roth), lighting (Brian MacDevitt), sound (Brian Ronan), and all the other tasks needed to bring THE BOOK OF MORMON to vivid life. This is a not-to-be-missed production. To quote Vogue Magazine in 2011: THE BOOK OF MORMON is “the filthiest, most offensive and – surprise – sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway this year, and quite possibly the funniest musical ever.”
THE BOOK OF MORMON runs through March 29, 2020, with performances at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays (no performances at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday 3/29; added performances at 2 p.m. on Thursday, 3/26). The Ahmanson Theatre is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets start at $45. For information and reservations, call 213-972-4400 or go online.