Can religion bring a community together or tear it apart? Is the literal meaning of the word more important than the sense of hope it can foster?
The Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon is fantastic and insanely funny! It is a wildly politically incorrect story on misunderstandings, blind faith, and friendships. It is also lewd, crude, and rude. But the crassness just adds to the preposterousness of the story and never takes the audience out of the moment. There are many scenes memorable for their artistry and jaw-dropping shock value. The show is crazy fun!
The Book of Mormon opens with a quick introduction on the origins of the Mormon religion. Then the story jumps to the present day when a pair of missionaries is sent to a village in Uganda to preach the message. However, the pair quickly discovers that they have their work cut out for them. The village is in crisis from poverty, AIDS, and under threat from a local warlord. The Mormons’ do-goody earnestness does not seem to have much of an impact. All of this is a great disappointment to Elder Price (Gabe Gibbs) who was hoping that missionary work would be his chance to shine. His awkward colleague, or rather companion, Elder Cunningham (Conner Peirson), tries an original approach with more success. However, the villagers have their own hilarious and poignant understanding of faith.
The story does not mock God. It explores how faith can bring communities together to help and look after each other. The songs are marvelous, especially “Hello!”, “Turn It Off” and “I Believe”. The choreography is wonderful and fast-paced: the first act felt like 10 minutes instead of an hour. The cast is excellent! Great voices, great performances from the entire ensemble bring the whole show in a tight and bright package. As the naive missionaries, Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Peirson are excellent- they engage the audience with their good intentions and weaknesses. Leanne Robinson, in the role of the villager Nabulungi, has a beautiful voice and gives a delightful performance.
Faith is a powerful force. When applied to bring hope, it can build a bridge between boundaries. And if this is accomplished with a song in your heart, so much the better!
Photo credit Joan Marcus
The Book of Mormon: presented by evenko and Broadway Across Canada. Book, Music and Lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker. Show runs until April 23, 2017 at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts, 175 Ste.-Catherine Street West, Montreal. For tickets, call the box office at 514-842-2112 (or 1-866-842-2112) or go to www.placedesarts.com