The Book of Mormon opened in San Jose this week as the final show in the 2014 – 2015 season of Broadway San Jose.
It is taking forever to write this review because I cannot stop laughing. I laugh, and then I laugh some more and then I feel a little bit dirty for laughing because, as you would expect from Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame), the humor is vulgar and repulsive and just wrong. But, there I am again, laughing about AIDS in Africa. So wrong and yet, I can’t stop laughing.
The Book of Mormon opens with a perky number of dancing, bright eyed missionaries at the end of their training, ready to go out and baptize more people into the Church of Jeasus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When star missionary, Elder Price (played by Billy Harrigan Tighe) is paired up with the bumbling and awkward Elder Cunningham (A.J.Holmes), he holds out hope, that while he may not have the pairing he wants for his 2 year mission, he has prayed long enough to be placed in his dream location: Orlando.
Instead of the sunny paradise of Orlando, Elders Cunningham and Price are sent to a poor, AIDS stricken village in Uganda under constant threat by an evil General Butt-F-ucking-Naked threatening to circumcise all the village women. When the elders arrive, the village has no interest in their teachings, instead they bust out into urging the missionaries to sing along with them. They have their own motto to help them get by, “Hasa Diga Eebowai!” Literally “F—k you God!” Again, why am I laughing about genital mutilation? I’m going to hell.
The show continues with the pair trying to come to terms with all of the awfulness that surrounds them, which has them questioning the core of everything they have been taught to believe all while carrying out the mission to baptize as many people as possible.
The talent of the cast is limitless. Alexandra Ncube is flawless as the naive and eternally optimistic villager Nabulungi. She quietly leads the village to redemption and helps lift Elder Cunningham to great heights. The real show stealer for me was Brian Beach as Elder McKinley. His portrayal of closeted missionary trying to turn the gayness off “Like a Light Switch” was hilarious. The flair he wove into his character throughout the show still has me chuckling.
There are so many things that make The Book of Mormon the darling of Broadway and all around amazing show. It’s the mixture of raunchy comedy, earnest performances by the talented cast and top notch Broadway songs and dances that has people lining up to try to get a ticket. It’s vulgar, but it is smart. It is offensive, but it is endearing. Really, it is just f-cking amazing. Go see this show.
The San Jose engagement of The Book of Mormon is presented by Broadway San Jose and is playing now through July 12th. Tickets are available at www.broadwaysanjose.com/once or at the box office located at the Center for Performing Arts (255 Almaden Blvd.) or by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787).