Broadway at TPAC presents:
The Book of Mormon
March 12 - 17, 2019; Ages 16+
TPAC's Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 | tpac.org
Remaining Showtimes: Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 - $130
Who would have thought that the guys who gave us Eric Cartman (TV's South Park) would wind up creating one of Broadway's most successful musicals of all time? The genius minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with Robert Lopez (who co-wrote the music for Avenue Q) were Broadway's force to be reckoned with in 2011. The three of them collaborated on the book, music and lyrics for The Book of Mormon, the wildly rowdy, irreverent musical that is hands-down the funniest show in Broadway history.
Mormon was the envy of the Tony Awards that year, sweeping up a whopping NINE awards (out of 14 nominations), including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Scenic Design.
The coming-of-age story about two likeable Mormons embarking on their mission to do the Lord's work that goes awry is chock full of cleverly written, catchy tunes that keep the audience energized and begging for more. The comedy focuses on Elder Price (Liam Tobin) and Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson) who are paired up for a two-year missionary journey to Uganda, much to Price's chagrin — the Ken doll cutout feels God has gypped him because he wanted an assignment to Orlando. Still, he's a Bible devotee and Mormon star in the making.
So, off to Africa it is with polar-opposite traveling companion Cunningham, a stocky, bumbling dork who has no friends and is a compulsive liar. They make their way to the Ugandan village where the folks there have daunting lives rife with poverty, famine, AIDS and oppression by an imposing warlord.
Things go off the rails quickly and Cunningham — who admits to Price that he's never actually read the religious book they're touting — starts making stuff up as he begins to instruct the Ugandans on the book and Mormon history. Cunningham's penchant for telling lies shines bright as he presents tales that include magic frogs that heal diseases (if you have sex with them) along with plenty of science fiction references thrown in, which include Star Wars and Star Trek. Not knowing any different, the Africans eat it up as though it's the gospel truth.
The show is full of parody and satire amid religious themes of faith and doubt. While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the main target of the jabs, the musical also makes a statement about organized religion as a whole. The Book of Mormon deftly points out the rigidity of out-of-touch religious stories while conversely shining a light of the good that religion can do as long as it's taken metaphorically instead of literally.
The high-energy production is solid with strong performances from the entire cast. Peirson deliver's side-splitting laughs in the crowd-pleasing numbers "Man Up" and "Making Things Up Again." Likewise, Tobin's impeccable vocal talent soars in "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" and "I Believe." In addition, Kayla Pecchioni (Nabulungi) gives a passionate performance of "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" and Andy Huntington Jones (Elder McKinley) presents a show-stealing rendition of "Turn it Off," the hysterical number about suppressing awkward feelings, including homosexual tendencies.
It's the Ugandans' performance of "Joseph Smith American Moses" that has the audience roaring loudest. This number has the natives performing the history of the Mormon religion, through song and dance, for the visiting Mission President (Ron Bohmer) — the version they learned through Elder Cunningham's tall tales.
The Book of Mormon is certainly not for everyone. If you're easily offended, you'll want to sit this one out, because the show sprays the audience with all sorts of offensive content (in the funniest ways). But if you're open minded with a great sense of humor, you'll find yourself laughing all the way through, start to finish.
A limited number of $25 tickets are available through a pre-show lottery at each performance. Entries will be accepted at the Jackson Hall Box Office beginning two-and-a-half hours prior to each performance. Each person can enter for one or two tickets on an entry form. Two hours prior to curtain, names will be drawn at random for seats in the first two rows of the orchestra level.
Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Entries are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets.