“Book of Mormon” = Book of Awesome.
And … that’s what I posted on Facebook after seeing the Chicago production of the Tony Award-winning musical, in town through June 2.
Taking the show in with a friend, she asked afterward exactly how I was going to write about it, and this is what I said:
If you have a sense of humor, can laugh at yourself and take religious pokes in stride, see “Book of Mormon.” If you are extremely rigid in your worldview, worry that mocking religion may land you in Hell and can’t handle cursing in your presence, this may be one you want to skip. Me thinks there may not be a lot of crossover in the audiences of last year’s Donny and Marie holiday show and this one.
“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Robert Lopez, are the masterminds behind “Book of Mormon,” which won nine Tonys during its initial Broadway run. Nic Rouleau reprises his New York role as Elder Price, the self-righteous, know-it-all young missionary convinced he can do his best work if assigned to the paradise that is Orlando, Fla. Rouleau is fantastic, indeed, but it’s his “companion,” Ben Platt’s Elder Cunningham, who steals the show.
Platt embraces the role of the socially awkward Cunningham in such an astonishingly funny and heartwarming way that you may actually find yourself brushing away an emotional tear or two in a show that also incudes sight gags worthy of MTV’s “Jackass.”
Elders Price and Cunningham find themselves in war-torn Uganda instead of Florida, trying to turn the hearts of villagers including the young and beautiful Nabulungi (or Nutella, or Nestle, and played very well by “American Idol” alum Syesha Mercado). And that’s all I’m going to tell you. Because there’s not much more I can safely say in print. My advice to you would be this: go, enjoy and laugh, laugh, laugh. Try not to look too hard for subtext or meaning—you’re welcome to have a discussion about whether or not religion can change the world, but then you may miss the point—that sometimes, you just need to be able to laugh at what typically isn’t funny. That’s life.
“Book of Mormon” run through June 2 at Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St., Chicago. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Kiosk at Water Tower Place (845 N. Michigan Ave.), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775‐2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online. Prices range from $45 to $115. In addition, there are 20 tickets held for each performance that will be sold through a drawing two and a half hours prior to each performance.