Entertainment :: Music

Book of Mormon

by Matthew Martello
Contributor
Tuesday Jun 24, 2014
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Monica L. Patton, David Larsen, Cody Jamison Strand
Monica L. Patton, David Larsen, Cody Jamison Strand  (Source:Joan Marcus)

The 2011 Tony Award-Winning Musical "The Book Of Mormon" is being performed at the Smith Center for Performing Arts in Las Vegas. The story centers mainly around Elder Price who is excited to begin his two year mission. All of his other friends are being stationed in places around the world such as Norway, France and Japan.

It is Price’s dream to be sent to his favorite city, the Disney Mecca of Orlando, Florida. Instead, he quickly learns that in life, you don’t always get what you want. His mission sends him to the impoverished, war-torn, third world African nation of Uganda, where he is greeted by people who want nothing more than to eat, not get shot at by warlords, drink clean water and live somewhere safe and sanitary.

Not surprisingly, the people in the Ugandan village are uninterested in listening to the teachings from the Book of Mormon. Further adding to Elder Price’s troubles is Elder Cunningham, an annoying sidekick who by his own admission has no friends.

Having heard so much hype about this musical for the past three years, I found it next to impossible for it to live up to my expectations. I am pleased to say that "The Book Of Mormon" met all expectations, and many more. This is a well-crafted musical filled with many cringeworthy (albeit hilarious) moments that kept me laughing from the very first minute.

Having seen other shows such as "Avenue Q," "Bat Boy The Musical," "Urinetown," "Evil Dead The Musical" and "The Toxic Avenger Musical," it seems as if a new genre has been created, namely the ’sick and wrong’ musical. If that’s the case, "The Book Of Mormon" would be the undisputed heavyweight champion.

Having heard so much hype about this musical for the past three years, I found it next to impossible for it to live up to my expectations. I am pleased to say that "The Book Of Mormon" met all expectations, and many more.

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone once again corner the market on hilarious, but also do it in a manner in which they expose some truths that challenge the audience members to think, which I am certainly in favor of. With Robert Lopez ("Avenue Q") on board, it creates the perfect combination of great laughs and catchy music.

There are many outstanding performances with this touring version of the show. David Larsen (Elder Price) and Nyk Bielak (Elder Cunningham) were terrific as the mission partners who were desperately trying to accept their fate. Denee Benton (Nabulungi) has an amazing voice and strong presence onstage.

David Aron Damane (General) offers one of the funniest performances I have seen from a supporting role in a long time. Christopher Shyer also did well with his multiple roles, including Mission President, Joseph Smith and Price’s dad.

The vocals by everyone were tight and crisp, allowing the audience to enjoy every last creative quip embedded in the songs. All technical aspects, from lighting to sound to costumes, were top rate, making this one of the best touring productions I have seen in my many years of experiencing live theater.

The show is certainly rated "R" for language and sexual situations. For those sensitive to those things, or for those who may be religiously sensitive, allow this tour to pass you by. For those who would like to experience the funniest, most clever musical to come out of Broadway in a long time, definitely go and see "The Book Of Mormon."

"The Book Of Mormon" runs through July 6 at The Smith Center for Performing Arts, 361 Symphony Park Avenue in Las Vegas, Nevada. For tickets or information, call 702-749-2000 or visit www.thesmithcenter.com.

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