October 26, 2014
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‘The Book of Mormon’ hot ticket at PPAC
Don Fowler

It’s here! The hottest ticket on Broadway has become the hottest ticket in Rhode Island.

The Tony Award-winning musical has captured the attention of our tiny state with its outrageous comedy, spoofing not only the Mormon church but religion in general…and a few other topics, including sex and politics.

The show is the creation of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who brought you the equally outrageous TV adult cartoon series, “South Park.” That should be a warning to those who are easily offended, not so much by the pokes at organized religion, but more by the “adult” language and graphic sexual references. “Carousel” this is not.

The basic story is funny and clever. Two Mormon missionaries graduate and receive their first assignment. Elder Price (Jonathan Cullen replaced the ailing Mark Evans the first few performances) expected to be assigned to Florida, but instead is sent to a small village in Uganda. His partner is the nerdy, lying, pain-in-the-neck Arnold (Christopher John O’Neill), whom we discover has never even read The Book of Mormon. “Too boring,” he says.

They join their Mormon brothers who have yet to baptize one native. The locals are more concerned with AIDS, gang leaders, poverty and hunger. They worship their god in a different, irreverent way.

When efforts to convert fail, Arnold makes up stories to win them over, eventually baptizing them. This brings their elders to the village, where the converted put on a play to dramatize their transformation.

The play is funny in a very raunchy way, surprising the elders and probably some members of the audience. It’s claim to be the best musical ever may be questioned by some, including me.

There are a few good production numbers, lots of energy and decent songs. Grey Henson as elder McKinley has the best one, which sums up the message of repressing your true feelings for the good of all.

Be warned that while “The Book of Mormon” is a good musical with lots of laughs, it is R rated and not for children.


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