‘Book of Mormon’ rude, crude — but still has heart

Here’s one musical that will really ring your chimes.

Assuming, of course, that you believe — in the church of the Broadway musical.

Make no mistake, the multiple Tony-winning “The Book of Mormon” is at least as rude and crude as advertised, with punchlines ranging from AIDS to ritual circumcision — and beyond.

You would expect nothing less from those wonderful folks who brought you “South Park,” Trey Parker and Matt Stone. (To say nothing of “Frozen” Oscar-winner Robert Lopez, a Tony-winner himself for the saucy “Sesame Street” spoof “Avenue Q.”)

But for all its irreverent satire, “The Book of Mormon”— at The Smith Center through July 6 — boasts a heart that beats with the irrepressible, undeniable energy of an old-school Broadway musical.

Not to mention the same plot structure that bolsters such Golden Age favorites as “The King and I” and “The Sound of Music.” (Seriously.)

In those shows, a plucky teacher or governess ventured far from her safety zone to share her knowledge and never-say-die spirit with the denizens of another world, whether 19th-century Siam or pre-World War II Austria.

“The Book of Mormon,” meanwhile, follows two plucky young Mormon missionaries — golden boy Kevin Price (slyly shining David Larsen) and his hapless, seemingly hopeless sidekick Arnold Cunningham (sweet, defiantly nerdy Cody Jamison Strand) — from Utah to Uganda.

There, they must minister to tribespeople who greet every tribulation — poverty, famine, disease, a bloodthirsty warlord with an expletive-undeleted name — with the philosophical chant “Hasa Diga Eebowai.” (The song may serve the same function as “The Lion King’s” jaunty “Hakuna Matata,” but — surprise! — the resemblance ends there.)

The villagers seem unlikely targets for conversion. Except for the local chief’s daughter Nabulungi (the winsome Denee Benton), who — after hearing the missionaries’ initial pitch — reveals her impeccable Disney-princess credentials with a wistful, wish-I-could-escape tribute to their home paradise, “Sal Tlay Ka Siti.”

Meanwhile, back at Mormon headquarters, the bright ’n’ shiny missionaries reveal their own problems, whether it’s Elder Cunningham’s penchant for fabricating, fibbing and outright lying — or Elder Price’s apparent inability to focus on anything but his own self-apparent perfection.

Either way, there’s a Mormon way to solve it, as desperately perky Elder McKinley (Pierce Cassedy) advises: “Turn it off, like a light switch, just go click! It’s a cool little Mormon trick.”

The deliriously, hilariously showbizzy song-and-dance that follows showcases “The Book of Mormon’s” have-it-both-ways energy: Treat touchy topics with all-stops-out numbers that look as though they’ve been lifted from vintage musicals. (They don’t sound like it, however, thanks to the constant F-bomb barrages.)

Directors Parker and Casey Nicholaw (who also did the kicky, zingy and altogether uproarious choreography) wisely keep “The Book of Mormon” bouncing from one knockout song and dance to the next, delivering fleet-footed “Watch this!” distraction on those occasions when the show fails to hit its satiric marks. (It doesn’t happen that often, but often enough to notice.)

Not to worry — “The Book of Mormon” brims with savvy stagecraft throughout. Brian MacDevitt’s Tony-winning lighting smoothly charts our pilgrims’ progress (and, eventually, their changes in perception), while Tony-winning set designer Scott Pask’s omnipresent tabernacle-style frame — topped with a rotating statue of the Angel Moroni — provides a literal reminder of where these missionaries are coming from. (And how they’re just as exotic a tribe, in their way, as the Ugandan villagers they’re trying to convert.)

And for card-carrying members of the Church of Broadway, it’s fun to play “spot the show” as this musical salutes and spoofs its hallowed ancestors.

Whether it’ll have the same staying power is debatable. But for now, “The Book of Mormon” offers ample opportunity to applaud — and laugh. Whether you feel guilty afterward depends, of course, on what you believe.

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
Five must-see acts at the Electric Daisy Carnival 2018
The "13 Reasons Why" mustang cruises down the Las Vegas Strip (Courtesy Netflix)
4 fun and fascinating museums in Las Vegas
U2 in Vegas through the years
U2 in Vegas through the years
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food
Dirt Dog In Las Vegas Makes Crazy L.A. Street Food (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Black Tap In Las Vegas Makes This Instagram-ready Golden Knights Shake (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
Nevada Ballet Theatre Premieres Until December
‘Until December’ debuts at ‘Ballet & Broadway’ season finale (Carol Cling Las Vegas
Celebrate The Golden Knights With Knights-inpired Latte Art (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single
Yodeling Boy Mason Ramsey Signs With Atlantic Records, Debuts First Single Ramsey, who shot to fame after a viral video of him yodeling at an Illinois Walmart surfaced, just debuted “Famous.” “If I'm gonna be famous for somethin'/I wanna be famous for lovin' you/If I'm gonna be known around the world/I wanna because of you, girl” Mason Ramsey, “Famous” It’s been quite the rush to stardom for the 11-year-old, who appeared on The Ellen Show and performed at Coachella earlier this month. “I’d been to Nashville a few times before, but never thought something like this would happen. It’s a dream to sign with Atlantic and Big Loud.” Mason Ramsey “I loved recording ‘Famous’ and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.”
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala
Steve Aoki, Pitbull And Other Stars Make An Apperance At The "Keep Memory Alive" Gala. (Janna Karel Las Vegas review-Journal)
"Hamilton" Fans Line Up Overnight At Smith Center To Get Tickets
"Hamilton" fans line up overnight at Smith Center to get tickets. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 concerts to see in Las Vegas this week
You can visit the speakeasy in The Mob Museum's basement... if you know the password
6 new foods hitting movie theaters in 2018
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like