If you haven’t heard already, the outrageous musical comedy that is The Book of Mormon has arrived in Manchester on its first UK tour.
To give you an idea of what to expect, it’s written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park ) and Robert Lopez, (co-writer of Avenue Q and Disney’s Frozen and Coco).
Add in the humorous choreography of Casey Nicholaw and this nine-time Tony Award and four-time Olivier Award-winning Best Musical has the audience in the palm of its hands.
The production is unusually both traditional and on-the-edge, with a nod to the golden age of musicals and a storyline that is a million miles away. Shocking in places, thought provoking in others. But more than anything it is satirical and indiscernibly funny – made all the more delightful, because it shouldn’t be!
We soon meet the owner of the gleaming smile and high self-regard, Elder Price (Kevin Play) who is determined to be the best door-to-door religious salesman the world has ever seen or, at least, Florida has ever seen. And Elder McKinley (Will Hawksworth) and Mission President (Jonathan Tweedie) decide the fresh-faced Price is to go and share his beliefs far beyond his Salt Lake City home.
It sounds promising but Elder Price has two disappointments hitting him in quick succession: he paired with Elder Cunningham (Connor Peirson) the geekiest new member, and their mission is to share their faith with the people of Uganda.
The fast-paced musical takes us and the mismatched duo to Uganda via a ‘Lion King’ send-off from their fellow missionaries. Finding actual doors to knock upon is the least of the fated faith workers’ problems.
Differing personalities of the hapless pair soon begin to emerge taking the audience on tightrope between hilarity and obscenity, interspersed with great lyrics, stunning vocals, hand-clapping songs and even a ballad or two.
Is love or lust in the air for Elder Cunningham when he meets the woman he would most like to convert, Nabulungi (Nicole-Lilly Baisden)? Sadly, he has constant problems remembering her name leading to many a belly-laugh from the audience. Nicole-Lilly Baisden provides a superb vocal contrast and more than holds her own against the strong characters of the highly engaging ensemble.
For a first UK tour it feels like the producers have sent their very best missionaries to Manchester in Kevin Clay and Connor Peirson – two actors who’ve previously played these roles on Broadway. As a production its high musical values are nothing short of sensational.
There are moments when there is nothing to do but wince and gasp at the unbelievable cheekiness of this production, it is certainly not for the faint hearted. If you go to be shocked no doubt you will be, however if you want to experience a great musical, buy your ticket now and as the fabulous cast never tired of saying ‘Tomorrow is a Latter Day.’★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Read our review of Hobson’s Choice at The Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.