There’s no need to be a fan of South Park to enjoy the 2011 Tony award-winning musical, The Book of Mormon. This religious musical satire follows two young Mormon men to Uganda for missionary work. They soon discover that spreading the Latter Day Saint’s doctrine isn’t as easy as they had thought, especially when the local villagers are more concerned with threats to their own safety from AIDS, corrupt militia, and female genital mutilation. Joining an Elder group already assigned to Uganda, the two newbies, Elder Price (James David Larson) and Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand), believe that if the natives give the Mormon faith a chance, they will convert.
The mission goes awry when Price, who wishes he were assigned to Orlando, bails on the group, and goofball Cunningham (who is a cross between the personas of Jonah Hill and Chris Farley) is put on the spot to preach The Book to the locals. There’s only one problem, Cunningham hasn’t read the entire book. He fakes it until he makes it, bringing in dogma from Star Wars, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. Cunningham’s teachings are of another allegiance, but certainly one that’s a lot more fun and, quite frankly, ridiculous. Just imagine what happens when the locals perform a skit of what they learned for the Mormon review committee. All hell breaks loose, but the two tribes come together for a happy ending.
Creators Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone bring in some crude humor and profanity. Their use of naïve and nerdy Mormon men uniting with lively Africans will get you to smile and laugh, making for an entertaining show.
Even the delivery of lines, lyrics, and choreography is well thought out and gives a bit of playfulness to the overall musical, especially in “Turn It Off”, when the Elders explain how to manage so-called negative feelings, like dealing with an abusive parent and thoughts of being gay. Turning your thoughts off like a light switch is their simple answer. Completely ridiculous, but then again, that’s the point.
The set and costumes were not overdone, which made it easy to follow the storyline and not get distracted by an elaborate production.
The cast was outstanding and Cody Jamison Strand gave a funny and energetic performance.