It sounds like a cliché but Examiner.com noticed there really was electricity in the air at the Murat Theater in the Old National Centre in downtown Indianapolis opening night of the national tour of the wildly popular musical “The Book of Mormon,” which played to a fully energized house Wednesday.
Technically, the show, which runs until June 22 (with two performances left Saturday and Sunday), is sold out but a pre-show lottery is held at the Box office before each show. If you win, you can purchase a $25 ticket (limit 2). For more information visit the Old National Centre box office in person or go online to www.oldnationalcentre.com.
“The Book of Mormon,” the winner of nine Tony Awards, features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. It premiered on Broadway in 2011. Parker and Stone are four-time Emmy Award winners and creators of the animated TV comedy series “South Park.” Lopez is the co-creator of the musical comedy “Avenue Q.”
Two young Mormon missionaries are the focus of “The Book of Mormon,” which tells the story of their adventures after they are sent to a remote northern Uganda village. Not only do the locals struggle with AIDS, famine and poverty, they also have to contend with a murderous warlord who constantly threatens them. It’s in this impossible climate that the two “companions” try to share the Book of Mormon, one of their religious scriptures, which only one of them has read, to the indifferent villagers.
Fans of “South Park” and “Avenue Q” know that the irreverent “The Book of Mormon,” which has been called “Grade A: The funniest musical of all time,” is filled with explicit language and thereby offensive to some. It’s especially distasteful for those who are religious and don’t understand or appreciate satire. Of course, the LDS church is lampooned in the musical, with their members portrayed as naïve do-gooders, and their religious stories portrayed as silly fairy tales. In the end, however, a conclusion is drawn that religion itself can benefit mankind as long as it is taken metaphorically and not literally.
Ultimately, those who love the show’s outrageous and sacrilegious humor recognize its absurdity and don't take themselves too seriously. Be warned, however, like a man who stormed out of the theater during the second act, presumably because he had enough, that the show is not for the faint of heart.
As far as the production itself, the audience was treated to exceptionally tight performances from a talented cast, honed from countless appearances on the road. Featured are Mark Evans as Elder Price, Christopher John O'Neill as Elder Cunningham, Alexandra Ncube as Nabulungi, Grey Henson as Elder McKinley and Stanley Wayne Mathis as Mafala Hatimbi.
As written, Elder Cunningham, the insecure but lovable lying nerd, of the two missionaries sent to convert the Ugandan villagers, is supposed to grab focus, but O’Neill, who plays him in this production, infused the character with so much quirky likeability that it was impossible not to keep your eyes on him whenever he was on stage working his comic magic.
That is not to say that Evans as devout Elder Price was a slacker, because he was an effective straight man to O’Neill’s character’s shenanigans.
McNube, who played the starry-eyed village girl Nabulingi who becomes convinced that Salt Lake City is paradise, also stood out, not only for her beauty but also for her strong dramatic and vocal talents.
The aforementioned excitement registered by the audience prior to the show continued throughout, at intermission and into the second act. A palpable buzz also filled the air as audience members, made up of both young and old, with some still laughing, as they waited to exit the Murat theater. In such close quarters it was easy to overhear comments from the seemingly satisfied theater goers who said such things as “I have never laughed so hard in my life” or “It was even better than I thought it would be.” In regard to the latter (pun unintended) comment, this writer concurs.
For more information about “The Book of Mormon” visit www.indianapolis.broadway.com.
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