I am a shameless Musical Theatre geek. It was what brought me to NYC to begin with (I lived there a total of 5 fantastic years) and although I no longer pursue it professionally, I love it all the same. I regret that I don’t get to see too many of the great shows that are at the local theatres here in Rochester as well as the tours that come through periodically (I definitely need to work on that one).
A year ago when we were visiting NYC we tried our hand at the lottery for Book of Mormon and unfortunately had no luck. I knew for a few months that it would be in town this year but with all the craziness new parenthood brings to the table, I never got around to getting tickets, though I mentioned in passing to Justin that I wanted to go.
This man, this wonderful man of mine who is constantly full of surprises, did it again. I got home from working my late shift on Thursday night and we were hanging out talking about our days. Interestingly enough, I had casually mentioned being bummed that we weren’t going to see the show (some of my coworkers were saying how great it was). Doesn’t he randomly tell me “ya know what? We’ve been working hard, we deserve a treat- look in your nightstand drawer.” So I look in the drawer to find none other than 2 tickets to the Sunday matinee if Book of Mormon. Turns out he’s been planning this with one of my best girlfriends Jessica, who agreed to come watch Alice so we could have a date. How awesome is he?!
Let me first say, this man of mine understands the value of good seats. We were in row L just to the right for the aisle, so basically just off center and pretty damn close. The seats were excellent.
Book of Mormon is the love child of the comic geniuses behind South Park and Team America World Police, Trey Parker and Matt Stone and the brilliant co-creator behind Avenue Q and composer of several songs for newer Disney movies, most recently Frozen, Robert Lopez. In the vain of the aforementioned tv show, movie and musical, Book of Mormon is an off color look at two young mens mission to Uganda to spread the word about the Mormon faith. In a word, hilarious.
The humor is not for the faint of heart, to say the very least. As expected, they find the line with every joke and not only cross it, but take a running leap well over it. Definitely not a family show, but we found it fantastically hilarious.
To say the entire cast was on point would be an understatement. Leading the way was Ryan Bondy, the Standby for Elder Price who has an excellent crystal clear voice and didn’t miss an opportunity to break that 3rd wall and let the audience in on the joke. Cody Jamison Strand was Elder Cunningham; he has excellent comic timing and a certain Jonah Hill quality going on, while still managing to breathe his own unique life into the role. Denee Benton took on the role of Nabulungi and did so with soaring soprano vocals and effortless grace and innocence. Supporting our 3 leads was Pierce Cassedy with his bright smile and cheery musical comedy presence, in the role of Elder McKinley. Donell James Foreman, an understudy, stepped seamlessly into the role of Mafala Hatimbi with a welcoming, likable quality that is quite fitting for this character. In the role of General, David Aron Damane is brooding and fierce in his disdain and disregard for our innocent tribe members. The icing on the cake is an unmatched ensemble of men and women who up the ante with superb dance skills and a fantastic blend whenever they sing.
I made a point to emphasize the fact that we had both a standby and understudy on for this performance because all too often (especially in Broadway shows when a “Name” actor is leading the cast) audience members get upset or disappointed by a standby or understudy going on for the actor that usually fills the role. This is sad because more often than not these standbys or understudy are quite talented and bring something unique and special of their own to the role. That was certainly the case for Sunday’s matinee- I very much enjoyed the performances of Brody and Foreman.
Overall it was a great show and I would absolutely spend good money to see it again. J, who can be very critical, also really enjoyed it. It was also nice to have a date and get some adult time, even for a short time, though we did enjoy a happy reunion with our girl when we returned home.