Book of Mormon Company; photo by Joan Marcus

In Broadway Across Canada’s touring production of The Book of Mormon, handsome, super-confident Mormon missionary Elder Kevin Price and geeky, insecure nerd Elder Arnold Cunningham are just out of Mission Training Center. The unlikely duo of missionaries to-be are paired off and sent to Northern Uganda (of all places) for two years in order to serve their calling from above.

While Elder Cunningham dreams of pleasing his father and serving God, Elder Price has his eye set on Orlando, Florida, after having fallen in love with the town as a child on holiday. All the prayers in the world can’t change the fact that both are headed to what they soon discover to be a poverty-stricken, AIDS-plagued part of the world run by powerful warlord General Butt-Fucking Naked. Let me mention at this point in my review that this show won’t jive with everyone.

“An equal opportunity offender, the show playfully pokes fun at religion, sexuality, poverty, and race, while inspiring an after-the-show discussion of religion in general.”

Book of Mormon Company; photo by Joan Marcus

Prepare to be confronted with lewd language and ‘props’ and racism during the two and a half hour, two-act (with intermission) production. This satirical musical pokes fun at – you guessed it – Mormon culture.

Still, for all the at-times silly, campy humour and jaw-dropping musical numbers, my biggest thumbs-up in this show is that it’s seriously well done! The acting, tight choreography (Associate Choreographer John MacInnis), gorgeous sets and lighting (Frank McCullough, Benjamin C. Travis respectively) and musical numbers with a live orchestra in the pit will have you engaged throughout the course of the evening.

Billy Harrigan Tighe photo Johan Persson Alexandra Ncube; photo by Joan Marcus 2015
[Billy Harrigan Tighe, photo by Johan Persson; Alexandra Ncube, photo by Joan Marcus 2015]

Particular vocal stand-outs are Billy Harrigan Tighe (Elder Price) and Alexandra Ncube (Nabulungi), a name that gets botched over to high hell by funnyman A.J. Holmes (Elder Cunningham) who has excellent comedic timing and plays the role of insecure geek to the nines.

Corey Jones as General B-F Naked gets some laughs for the priceless looks he gives Elder Price in the second act. Once Price and Cunningham temporarily part ways, the hilarity ensues as the latter goes about converting the Africans according to his own brand of conversion, the Book of Arnold!

There’s a lesson to be learned here, and luckily both leads in this show get to experience life-changing moments. The ensemble all work well together, often clad in colourful and unique costumes courtesy of Associate Costume Designer Matthew Patchman.

A.J. Holmes; photo by Johan Persson
[A.J. Holmes; photo by Johan Persson]

The Book of Mormon’s picked up nine Tony awards for best musical and features book, music, and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series South Park; fans of the series will find many similarities to both 1998 film Orgazmo and 2003 SP episode entitled All About Mormons.

This show’s the hot ticket all week and if you’ll be lucky to get your hands on a pair. If you’re interested in trying your luck at the pre-show lottery, simply show up at the Queen E Theatre Plaza (around the corner from the box office) up to two and a half hours prior to each performance.

Fill out your name and the number of tickets (one or two) you wish to purchase. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each, cash only (one entry per person; cards will be checked for duplication prior to drawing).

You must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID in order to purchase tickets (subject to availability).

Broadway Across Canada’s The Book of Mormon continues to April 12 at the Queen E Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday, 8 pm; Saturday, Sunday, 2 pm; Sunday, 7:30 pm.

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