The Book of Mormon musical is coming to the West End. The Book of Mormon is opening at the Prince of Wales Theatre in March 2013. The producers have decided to bring over the current Los Angeles production cast members Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner as the two Mormon Elders sent to Uganda to spread the Christian word.
I’m really not sure what the UK audience is going to make of it! The Mormons, as we call them, are really followers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and call themselves latter day saints. Mormonism is such a US thing. They even just nearly voted one in as president!
Here in the UK it is a small and fairly insignificant religion, with far fewer churches and little political influence. We’ve all had Mormons on our doorstep at one time or another. We know about the clean cut American young men who travel in pairs and dress conservatively but how much does the UK public know about what Mormons believe? It is hard to make satire work if your audience does not understand quite what it is you are satorising. I suspect the older amongst us (cough!) will associate Mormons with having lots of wives (they don’t any more and haven’t for over 100 years!) and a particularly salacious court case about a kidnapping in Devon and some mink lined handcuffs(!) back in the late 70s. Google it if you must, I refuse to link to the Daily Mail!
Back to The Book of Mormon musical. The first thing you should know is that it is brought to you by the makers of South Park. Yes that offensive, juvenile and often screamingly funny cartoon. Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park have worked with with Avenue Q co-creator, Robert Lopez on the show. This might prepare you for what the show is like, maybe. Expect raw, rude, deliberately provocative humour. Mrs. Whitehouse wouldn’t have liked it. If you ever saw Avenue Q then you get the basic idea. Avenue Q was basically Sesame St with sex and lots of swearing. American humour can be a bit broad and unsubtle but, if you can get past feeling offended, then it can be very funny.
Get an idea of what to expect from this clip in which they discuss one of the main songs ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’. This is perhaps the production’s most controversial song and they really expected the audience to walk out during it! I think they were slightly disappointed that no one did!
The Book of Mormon, musical gold or an all American turkey?
So once you get past the swearing and irreverence of the show, the next big question is ‘Will it be a good night out?’.
My answer to this is a resounding “Yes! How could it not be?” It has so much going for it. It is a live musical, not a juke box show, with high production values, it has been a hit on Broadway and it has a great cast. The London cast includes: Gavin Creel and Jared Gertner from the Los Angeles production, plus Alexia Khadime, Stephen Ashfield and Daniel Buckley. The music is good, high quality stuff. The words and dialogue have some witty moments. There are excellent sets and costumes. The plot is amusing and even if we don’t ‘get’ all the Mormon references we can all still enjoy laughing at the Americans The African setting lets the show play around with poking fun at Disney’s Americentric viewpoint in general and at the Lion King in particular. It seems to be the sort of show that will sweep you along and it certainly won’t be boring.
See what dates are available for Book of Mormon theatre breaks