Hello. My name is Critic Dan, and I would like to share with you some thoughts on the national tour of “The Book of Mormon”, which stopped at the Start.ca Performance Stage at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario from March 20-23.
It’s a Tony Award-winning musical that has become a cultural phenomenon since its Broadway debut in 2011. The touring version of the show is based on the original Broadway production by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw, with music and lyrics by Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone.
The production’s lively and infectious humor, which mocks organized religion and cultural stereotypes, was met with roars of laughter from the crowd, right from the opening lyrics of Hello. And let me tell you, the crowd ate it up like it was their last supper.
The cast delivered a standout performance, led by an outstanding portrayal of Elder Price by actor Craig Franke. His stunning vocals and charismatic stage presence breathed life into the character’s naive, yet ambitious personality. His counterpart, Elder Cunningham, played by Sam Nackman, was equally impressive, delivering a performance filled with comedic timing and energy, much like that of original cast member Josh Gad.
Some memorable musical numbers included “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” “Turn It Off,” and “Joseph Smith American Moses.”
“Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” is a raucous and entertaining production number that takes place in hell. The song features an ensemble of demonic characters, including a horned devil and a dancing Starbucks cup, who sing and dance their way through a nightmarish landscape. The number is a hilarious and irreverent take on the classic Broadway show tune, with clever and absurd lyrics that had the audience in stitches. The performance was visually stunning, with elaborate costumes and makeup that transformed the cast into otherworldly creatures.
“Turn It Off” is a lively and upbeat production number that takes a satirical look at the Mormon practice of repressing emotions and desires. The song is led by Elder McKinley, who teaches the other missionaries how to “turn off” their unwanted feelings and urges, using a catchy and infectious chorus. The performance was a visual treat, with choreography that had the audience tapping their feet and dancing in their seats. Actor Sean Casey Flanagan delivered a standout performance as Elder McKinley, with his comedic timing and vocal abilities impressing the audience.
“Joseph Smith American Moses” is a humorous and insightful exploration of the life of the Mormon church’s founder, Joseph Smith, as seen through the eyes of the Ugandans. The song is a clever and catchy homage to the a-typical classic musical theater number, featuring a large ensemble of actors singing and dancing their way through Smith’s life story. The performance was a visual delight, with colorful and detailed costumes that evoked the different eras of Smith’s life. The song was led by Nabulungi, played by actress Berlande, who led this wacky tale with whimsical charm.
The elaborate set design created a visually stunning experience that transported the audience from the heart of Utah to the Ugandan terrain. The costumes were equally impressive, capturing the essence of the show’s eclectic characters with bold and colorful African designs, and of course, the traditional Mormon black and white.
But beyond the show’s comedic brilliance and visual spectacle, there was an underlying message of friendship and acceptance that truly resonated with the audience. The show’s uplifting finale left the crowd feeling energized and inspired, proving that even in the face of adversity, hope and kindness can prevail.
“The Book of Mormon” musical might very well be THE funniest musical ever written. From start to finish, the audience is in stitches with its clever, irreverent humor that pokes fun at religion and society. It is a raunchy, irreverent, and hilarious show that, if our London audience is any indication, will have you laughing out loud from start to finish.
Now, where’s my coffee?
For more on The Book of Mormon tour and other dates, visit thebookofmormontour.com.