Review By Chelsea Murray Kaneb
The Book of Mormon, the 9-time Tony award winning, controversial musical graced the stage of the gorgeous Palace Theatre this past week. The Book of Mormon bursts with energy, is often offensive, and yet it really has the ability to tug at the heart strings. The show sprang to life from the minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creative team behind the satirical, crass, and hysterically funny animated show, South Park. As to be expected from these creators who push the envelope like no other, the musical both highlights and mocks many aspects of Mormon beliefs, and characterizes the African villages and their people in a deprecating way. The show takes you on a journey filled with outrageous jokes and musical numbers peppered with profanity, but ultimately lands on showing the audience the beauty of service and the power of love.
The highlight of the show comes during the best song, I Am Africa, a “We Are The World” type song poking fun of the savior complex of the western world. Many of the musical numbers and scenes bring to light topics such as female genital mutilation in Africa that is important to talk about, and wrapping it in humor can make it easier for people to ingest the message.
The cast of the touring production of The Book of Mormon is full of life and talent, especially Jordan Matthew Brown who portrays the character of Elder Cunningham in similar fashion as Josh Gad who famously originated the role on Broadway. Brown sprinkles a bit of his own magic onto the character throughout the show and holds his own. The set design was Broadway quality and the score by Avenue Q co-creator, Robert Lopez was unique and full of life. The audience, although uncomfortable many times, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show and filled the Palace with laughter and applause from the first “Hello!” to the final curtain.