By Chris Heide
More than ever, The Book of Mormon is the musical that America needs. The show recently returned to the Paramount, as part of its national tour. It is, by far, one of the best musicals ever produced. Everything about it is outstanding; the book, the lyrics, the script, the choreography and the casting.
It is a bombastic, titillating and shocking production. Simply put, The Book of Mormon isn’t your mother’s musical.The story is simple enough; it’s a tale of two Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda in order to convert the native Africans to Mormonism. Given that the book and lyrics are written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park, the mission doesn't go exactly as planned.
The show is undoubtedly shocking and appropriately offensive. The musical numbers are filled with references to AIDS, female genitalia, rape, sex with frogs and blasphemy against religion. Any single one of the elements would be shocking enough. The accumulation of satirically offensive parts is so great that one cannot help but hysterically laugh at this deliciously ingenious creation.
Kevin Clay (Elder Price) and Conner Peirson (Elder Cunningham) are outstandingly cast as the show’s two leads. Clay possesses an outstanding vocal prowess and cocky charisma, just two of the elements that make his interpretation of Elder Price that much more outstanding. His rendition of I Believe (The Book Of Mormon’s iteration of Defying Gravity) is nothing less than pitch perfect. Peirson also demonstrates amazing vocal range, but his true talents show in his impeccable comedic timing. The two men have a palpable chemistry that permeates the duration of the show.
2017 was dismal time for many Americans. Performance art, such as this show, helps to both distract from the brutal realities of the real world, while also serving as savvy cultural commentary. The Book of Mormon is both intelligent and hilarious; it is a show that is not to be missed.