The Book of Mormon premiered in Melbourne in February with an A List of celebrities in attendance. The Finer Things in Travel was thrilled to be invited. As for the show? It’s irreverent, it’s politically incorrect and it pokes fun at just about everything from sex to green frogs – but it’s great entertainment.
The Book of Mormon now showing at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre is a polished risque musical that moves as fast as you can say South Park.
What’s it about?
It traces the fortunes and misfortunes of a pair of plucky young missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who are looking forward to their first mission.
Maybe Uganda wasn’t their first choice – but they head off with enthusiasm to a remote African village complete with a gun-happy war lord and villagers facing famine, poverty and disease to spread the beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dressed in Mormon attire – pristine white shirts and narrow black ties – they are at a loss when they discover there are no door bells to press in the village.
Elder Price played by Ryan Bondy, forms an “uncomfortable” relationship with the eye-patch wearing war lord as he tries to convert him, while the socially- challenged and at times downright goofy Elder Cunningham played by A.J. Holmes, can’t resist stretching the truth just a little as he tries to convert the villagers and succeeds.
While Bondy and Holmes are fresh from US productions, love interest Nabulungi played by Zahra Newman is from Melbourne and has a stellar voice.
She is joined by Bert LaBonte as Mafala and Rowan Witt as Elder McKinley who all give excellent performances.
The songs are catchy and you may well find yourself humming along to show stoppers including I Believe, Turn It Off, Baptise Me and Tomorrow Is a Latter Day.
Dancing and big production numbers are slick and no wonder – The Book of Mormon is a collaboration of South Park creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone with Robert Lopez of Avenue Q and Frozen fame.
The musical has had unprecedented success wherever it is staged with sell-out seasons.
It’s been running for five years on Broadway and three years in London’s West End with all of its 1228 performances a sell-out.
In Melbourne, it has already broken the house record for the highest selling on sale period of any production in the Princess Theatre’s 159-year history.
Nothing is sacred in the musical and it is utterly wicked in parts with explicit language, so if you are easily offended, it’s not for you.
A scurrilous satire, it pokes fun at the ways of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but in a “nice” way, according to the producers.
“Mormon groups responded to the production by actually buying advertising space within the show’s playbills, with phrases such as, “You’ve seen the play, now read the book”, Parker says.
Expect discreet chuckles to develop into good old belly laughs as the show unfolds at a cracking pace that leaves you on the edge of your seat in case you miss something.
At times you wonder did they really say that – and a sacred cow is hauled across the stage – just to prove nothing is sacred or goes unscathed.
Like all great musicals it has a heart – a naughty one at that.
The Book of Mormon is now playing at the Princess Theatre, 163 Spring Street, Melbourne
Tickets are on sale until June 25, and can be purchased at bookofmormonmusical.com.au