From the creators of South Park, the hilariously crude TV show, comes The Book of Mormon, a…you guessed it…hilariously crude musical. The smash-hit comedy first opened its doors on Broadway back in 2011 and has grossed over half a billion dollars. The show has played in three different continents, including a hugely successful run in the West End, and now, the rip-roaring musical is embarking on its first UK tour, currently playing in Manchester at The Palace Theatre until 24 August.
The story follows Elder Price (Kevin Clay) and Elder Cunningham (Conner Pierson), two Mormon missionaries sent to a Ugandan village to spread the word of Jesus Christ and The Latter Day Saints.
With their risqué jokes and an undeniable charm, the double act is a lovable duo that you can’t help but root for every step of the way.
The gags are plentiful, ranging from AIDS to having the Book of Mormon quite literally shoved up the ass. However, these do get repetitive as the script relies on the same vulgar jokes to get through. Even so, laughter was in full swing from the get-go, with the second act earning itself a whole load of whoops and cheers from the audience.
The rib-tickling opener ‘Hello!‘ earnt itself a chorus of laughter from the audience which got the show off to a brilliant start and set the tone for the next 120 or so minutes. ‘You And Me (But Mostly Me)‘ marks the start of the wonderful friendship between Price (Clay) and Cunningham (Pierson) and the offensive ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai‘ left the audience in stitches while giving a not-so-subtle nod to The Lion King – “Does it mean no worries for the rest of our days?” (hint, it does not…). Cunningham (Pierson) and Nabulungi’s (Nicole-Lily Baisden) showed off their chemistry in the duet ‘Baptise Me‘, which included impressive vocals and some cheeky sexual innuendos. The number that received the best response, however, was Cunningham’s (Pierson) ‘Man Up‘ with its catchy beats, powerful vocals and a load of theatre magic.
Casey Nicholaw’s choreography is second-to-none and definitely completes the show. ‘Turn It Off‘, led by Elder McKinley (Will Hawksworth) features a spectacular tap routine and with its sequins and sparkles, would fit right into a cabaret show. ‘Spooky Mormon Hell Dream‘ is a visual masterpiece, featuring costumes and a set design that would not be lost in a horror movie.
Despite the crude thigh-slapping one-liners and appearances from the likes of Yoda and Hitler, this mega-hit musical shows the importance of community and friendship. Without giving it away, the ending is as touching as it is funny and I left the theatre thinking about it for a while after.
The Book of Mormon is full of non-stop action and I can’t recall a single moment when the room wasn’t filled with laughter. It’s easy to see why this show has such a cult following, with audience members returning time after time. You’ll laugh out loud and you might even cry a bit, but one thing for sure is that it’s not one for the faint-hearted.