Back by popular demand, “Book of Mormon” brought the word of Jesus – kind of – to Bull City this August. The fast-paced, gut-busting musical made its return to Durham from Aug. 7 to Aug. 12, bringing in excited patrons from around the state. Back from its sold out European tour, “Book of Mormon” brought an anything-goes kind of humor to the Durham stage, in a way that only the nine-time Tony winning musical could.
“Book of Mormon” follows two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as they attempt to bring the word of Jesus – and Joseph Smith – to Uganda. It is as raunchy as it is heartfelt, with genuine moments of compassion cutting between cracks at the Mormon faith and religion as a whole.
The cracks must have been taken well however, as there was a full page advertisement for the real Book of Mormon in the program for the show.
The set had been created to look like the steeple of a church, complete with stained glass which had been coordinated to change with the lighting for the show. This felt especially fitting, since the show is littered with humorous depictions of Joseph Smith talking to God, and later, the foundation of the Book of Arnold.
The costumes were simple, with the Mormon missionaries wearing the traditional white-buttoned shirts and black ties customary of the faith. The people of Uganda wore simple t-shirts and shorts. Yet, this really enhanced the music, choreography and design of the show. Everything felt perfectly synchronized, and completely unafraid to tell the story exactly as the creators saw fit.
One of the best moments of the show was the song “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.” This is when Elder Price’s guilt for attempting to transfer from Uganda to Orlando manifests into a terrifying hell dream. It’s complete with dancing skeletons, Satan himself and, scariest of all, Johnny Cochrane. Somehow perfectly blending tap dancing, guitar solos and the overwhelming fear of going to hell, “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” had the audience in stitches, with laughs echoing out long after Elder Price ascended back to Earth.
Seeing “Book of Mormon” live is a completely different experience than simply listening to the soundtrack. Between the set, the story, the music and the cast, it’s obvious why The New York Times heralded it as “the best musical of the century.” It is unrelentingly funny and completely offensive, yet still retains a large amount of heart.
Though the North America tour has now left the Tarheel State, Book of Mormon will almost definitely return bigger and funnier than ever. This is one show that you do not want to miss.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment