The Book of Mormon has been making global headlines since it hit the Broadway stage in New York in January 2011.
The musical is the creation of Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone and it’s a story that takes you through the journey of two young American Mormon missionaries who are sent from the comfort of Salt Lake City to Uganda to spread the word and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The lead characters are Elder Kevin Price (Robert Colvin) who is looking forward to his two-year mission whilst praying he will be posted to Orlando a magical place where he once visited as a child and dreams, he will return, whilst his partner Elder Arnold Cunningham (Connor Peirson) a nerdy overweight compulsive liar and fantasist missionary is solely looking for a best friend and approval from his father.
Directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw who also Choreographed the show injected some of the most phenomenal dance sequences I’ve seen in a while in the two hours and twenty-minute performance.
The show itself is not for the faint hearted and has an age rating of fourteen and above due to significant amounts of swearing, sexual and offensive content – it seems almost impossible not to be offended by ‘The Book of Mormon’ but judging by the roars of laughter and applause throughout the performance, the rest of the audience seemed less offended than delighted.
The show openly discusses religion, female genital mutilation, aids, paedophilia and warlords and regularly leaps the fine line between satire and sacrilege, but I would say stick with it even through the moments that may make you feel uncomfortable as the show only makes sense if you watch it to the finale as it’s the last few scenes where everything falls into place.
Regardless of my personal unease of the dialogue throughout the script there are some huge showstopper songs within the sixteen lyrical numbers of ‘The Book of Mormon’s musical such as ‘Turn It Off’ which comes complete with its elaborate tap-dance sequence which was clearly a crowd pleaser during tonight’s performance especially due to Elder McKinley’s (Jordan Lee Davies) interpretation of his forbidden sexual attractions. Jordan Lee Davies was absolutely captivating throughout the show making some of dark territory much more palatable.
Another popular number was ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream’ where you see young Elder Price tortured by the guilt of abandoning his geeky partner Elder Cunningham. The lyrics are dark, but the visuals were sensational with its magnificent costumes, vibrant colours, remarkable lighting and delightful dance display.
The most tender and heartfelt moment of the show for me personally was when Nabulungi (Aviva Tulley) sang ‘Sal Tlay Ka Siti’, Tulley aged 21 vocals were the most glorious and heavenly part of the evening as this young lady could sing the telephone book and still make it sound angelic.
The show is clearly popular, and you can’t help but warm to the character Elder Cunningham with his naive childlike behaviour. Peirson’s interpretation of the role was flawless and high-powered infusing energy and emotion into the character.
Although some may consider ‘The Book of Mormon’ offensive and controversial the show is as stated previously immensely popular and has filled auditoriums for over ten years during its UK and international tours and claimed many prestigious awards since its successful creation in 2011.
The show’s strength is in its musical numbers, costume design, choreography, lighting and on-stage scenery making it a visual and auditory sensational experience.
Standout performance for me must be credited to Jordan Lee Davies and Aviva Tulley for their magnificent execution of Elder McKinley/Moroni and Nabulungi as they both brought a unique richness to the characters.
Well done to all involved in this bizarre but appealing production of ‘The Book of Mormon’ performed at the Palace Theatre Manchester, which continues its run throughout December then transfers to Glasgow’s Kings Theatre on the next leg of the tour – Tickets are available via https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-book-of-mormon/palace-theatre-manchester/
Reviewer: Katie Leicester
Reviewed: 9th December 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★
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