My name is Elder Price.
And I would like to share with you the most amazing book.
And so began a hilarious 2 hours and 20 minutes of pure musical genius. The opening number – Hello! – introduces us to the elders going door-to-door to convert people to Mormonism; a scenario I’m sure most people have been on the receiving end at some point in their lives. As inconvenient as this is in real life, here, you instantly can’t help but smile and laugh as their cheeriness beams out into the theatre.
We meet Elder Price, played by Dom Simpson, who prays to be sent to Orlando to complete his missionary training. Instead, he is sent to Uganda, of all places, to convert a local village to Mormonism. With him, the bumbling and high-pitched Elder Cunningham – J. Michael Finley – joins him on their optimistic new venture. Alas, the first door they approach doesn’t even have a bell to ring, and unlike the shiny doors they’re familiar with in America, this one is covered in shit… From here, the lyrics progressively get more offensive in the next number – Hasa Diga Eebowai – a song and dance about AIDs and rape. Controversial to say the least, yet somehow, The Book of Mormon gets away with this dark humour. Initially, there was muffled laughter and gasps, with the audience not quite knowing whether it’s politically correct or appropriate to burst out laughing at the shocking lyrics the co-creators throw at us. Though it didn’t take long for this to disperse and for everyone to ease into fits of laughter and giggles – a sign this phenomenal musical is a real theatrical winner.
And the quality songs just keep on coming throughout the show, with a favourite being Turn It Off, hearing the Elders preach “Being gay is bad, but lying is worse, so just turn it off! Like a light switch.” This brilliant number also has one of the best moments in the show when the Elders don sequinned vests to perform a tap dance. I mean, anything which features tap dancing and sequins has to be amazing, right? Just don’t get me started on 42nd Street, another musical in my top three alongside Kinky Boots. You can read my review of the Broadway version of Kinky Boots here.
The Book of Mormon is outrageously bold and equally hilarious, which isn’t surprising considering the men behind this showstopper is Robert Lopez – co-creator of Avenue Q – and Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park.
Yes, the production may be considered controversial by some, but it’s damn hard to not enjoy The Book of Mormon and come away without a smile plastered on your face.