I was quite excited to finally get to see the hottest ticket in town (Outside of “Hamilton” that is) . I must admit I do have a little more knowledge about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints than most people. I had the pleasure of dating one of those “boys” and attending the church for a while. I also remember that in the seventies when you thought of Mormons, you thought of the squeaky clean singing family , the Osmonds. Today when you think of Mormons, you think of the cult like group that inspired the movie where Tony Goldwyn marries underage girls and then seduces them. When the play first premiered, I was a fan of the droll sense of humor of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They make fun of every convention , especially religion. Since they were raised in the rich Mormon country in Colorado, the religion was ripe for satire. Their movie “Orgasmo” further makes fun of the Mormon religion and its fanatism. “Book Of Mormon” is so no exception.
There are two things that every Mormon boy and girl dreams of in their life. The first is the day they find their mate and then are sealed in the temple. But before they find that special someone, they must go on a mission. Usually this is when they are attending college and the parents have been saving for this since the cradle. The young man or woman goes to training and then is assigned a place to preach the Book of Mormon. Our story begins when a group of young elders arrive at mission training and are assigned to a partner . The opening song “Hello” introduces us to the group of Mormon boys who spend a large part of their lives ringing doorbells and then having them slammed in their faces. Ryan Bondy shines as the optimistic Elder Price who ‘s dream assignment is the land of Mickey Mouse, Orlando. Equally enthusiastic is the not so popular Elder Cunningham, who is so adorable that you just want to hug him. He is charmingly played by the very engaging Cody Jamison Strand. Cody gives me hope when I see young actors like him. He proves that he can entertain and act and he doesn’t have that typical “poster boy” look that stage productions like this tend to have. Elder Cunningham is so excited to have Price as his partner and even more excited to hear that the elders will be sent to Africa. This is where the fun begins.
The two elders arrive in the foreign land of Africa. This is where the young boys get their first taste of real life, they are robbed in the airport. Things don’t get any better when they are told of the dismal rate of baptisms and how they are expected to improve them. Parker’s sense of humor is utilized in the name of the General Butt Fucking Naked. The General is as terrifying as Poppa Pope when he orders the genital mutilation of his village. This also scares the young Nabulungi. Candace Quarrels enchants the audience with her golden voice as she sings of a land where everything is perfect. Price wants to give up since he is having no success and then he wants to go to his precious Orlando, alone! Arnold is crushed but then realizes that he must go on without Price. Nabulungi asks about this dream place and then the tales begin. The rich African culture is embraced in the production numbers and give the audience exposure if they have never seen the dances performed live . But all is rosy in the end when the two missionaries reunite and are successful in converting all the villagers and the general. Now there are a group of bad ass missionaries poised to convert the world.
You will laugh your ass off at this irreverent salute to pop culture. The “Hell”: scene is reminiscent of the scenes in the “South Park” movie where Hell is a place for Hitler and Einstein. This play is a must for anyone who has every watched South Park or had any exposure to the LDS and escaped. The good news is that you can catch this piece of Broadway history and its ton of awards including nine Tony awards including Best Musical. The elders will be residing at the Private Bank Theatre until August 14. If you have a relative coming to town, why not treat them to a belly busting , laugh till you pee evening. Forget these serious artsy plays, let them truly have a good time at” Book of Mormon.”
For more info about performances and tickets go to http://www.BroadwayinChicago.com