Reviewed by Joan Tupponce
Creators Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone take direct aim at everything from religion to sex in their mega-hit The Book of Mormon now playing at Altria Theater for Broadway in Richmond.
You have to walk into this multiple Tony-Award winning musical with an open mind and a broad sense of humor. What else would you expect from Parker and Stone who created “South Park” and Lopez who co-created “Avenue Q.”
This edgy religious satire is filled with language that will make you blush, scenes that will make you squirm, and jokes that will make you feel naughty for doubling over in laughter. Let’s face it: The show is offensively hilarious with an emphasis on hilarious.
In the musical, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who have just finished their Mormon indoctrination are sent to Uganda to teach the people about the Book of Mormon. Elder Price, who wanted to convert souls in Orlando instead, and Elder Cunningham, who has never even read the Book of Mormon, set out on their journey starry eyed. When they arrive in Uganda, the villagers tell them all the problems they are dealing with, from AIDS to corruption. And they blame God for all of this. When things don’t run as smoothly as Elder Price had hoped he tries to get transferred to – you guessed it: Orlando. Elder Cunningham who fully admits he has a problem with lying begins to tell the Ugandans stories from the Book of Mormon that he has made up using some of his favorite television and movie characters. It all comes to a sidesplitting end when the Ugandans stage a musical for the head of the Mormon Church, telling the tale that Elder Cunningham taught them.
The extremely talented ensemble cast moves the action along swiftly and effortlessly. But it’s Elder Price, played by Ryan Bondy at this performance, and Elder Cunningham played by Cody Jamison Strand, along with Denée Brown who plays the village chief’s daughter, that bring down the house in this production.
Brown’s exceptional vocals and honest portrayal make her a standout. Price’s energetic performance has a charming Jim Cary-esque flavor that is sure to win you over. His vocals are always spot on.
Strand is an absolute showstopper. His combination of childlike innocence and reckless abandon will keep you laughing throughout the two-and-a-half hour show. He is so, so much fun to watch.
The Book of Mormon is a musical that will leave a lasting impression. Open your mind, check your inhibitions at the door, and have a great time. It is not for anyone under the age of 18. Period.
From Broadway in Richmond, the show runs through November 9 at Altria Theater.
Lottery for Performances of The Book of Mormon
A day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of orchestra seats will be held for The Book of Mormon, which is running at Altria Theater through November 9.
Two and one-half hours prior to each performance, people who present themselves at the Altria Theater Box Office will have their names placed in a lottery drum; thirty minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only. This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person. Lottery participants must have a valid photo ID when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets.