The Book of Mormon opened its Australian season last Saturday at the Princess Theatre, making Melbourne only the third city to see the production (excluding the US tour) behind New York and London. Back in 2015, Melbourne certainly created a coup to secure Mormon and now after a series of previews, we are on to the season proper. For tens of thousands of avid theatre-goers down under, the 17-month wait is finally over.
In this Book of Mormon, a group of young missionaries end up in Uganda attempting to convert the villagers whose lives are being overthrown with poverty, disease and a one-eyed local warlord. Not the easiest of tasks for slick Elder Price and his sidekick, the socially awkward Elder Cunningham.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know by now the creators of The Book of Mormon are Trey Parker and Matt Stone, those crazy guys who successfully brought us the adult animated sitcom South Park all those years ago. So be warned, The Book of Mormon is not for the faint-hearted.
As you’d expect, every-one and every-thing is fair game in The Book of Mormon and there are few limits. Equal parts biting satire and black humour, Mormon blissfully lampoons, caricatures, ridicules and attacks with joy everything from AIDS and female circumcision to homosexuality and cancer. Not to mention the Mormon religion, of course. While The Book of Mormon may test your limits on occasions, it is not filthy or distasteful. Instead, it is a well-crafted musical comedy, impressively clever in its wit and execution.
While it is fair to say The Book of Mormon is not suitable for your 11-year old daughter, your grandma, however, will find it hilarious if she is open-minded. Conservatives should steer clear of Mormon as, like South Park, its very core will likely be offensive to some. Here’s hoping you do your homework before purchasing a ticket to the show!
The Book of Mormon‘s strengths are everywhere to be seen. The songs are composed by Avenue Q‘s Robert Lopez. Parker, Stone and Lopez all had a hand in writing the lyrics to a collection of largely hilarious musical numbers that will leave you in stitches (my favourites are Man Up, Turn It Off, and the show stopper I Believe). The production successfully mixes an eclectic range of musical genres without making it sound like an audible dog’s breakfast. If you’re not singing the songs on the way out of the theatre, then I’m sorry, you’re not human!
Casey Nicholaw’s choreography is tight to say the least. The missionaries’ dance numbers are wonderfully comic and entertaining. Ryan Bondy is superb as Elder Ryan, while A.J. Holmes is equally impressive as the highly comical Elder Cunningham. Zahra Newman is fabulous as Nabulungi (what a voice!). Bert Labonte is excellent as Mafala and Rowan Witt is outstanding as the camp Elder McKinlry. The triple-threat is up front and centre in The Book of Mormon, as the entire cast excel in every aspect of the show,
It’s hard to find a weak link in The Book of Mormon. 27 years as a Drama teacher and The Book of Mormon is hands down the funniest night I have had at the theatre. Irreverence at its very best. Thoroughly entertaining.