28 December 2014

The Book of Mormon Broadway Review

Hello! My name is Elder Wells. And I would like to share with you this show I saw recently. 

You may have noticed that I've been making quite a few references to the Book of Mormon musical in my blog posts. That's because it is actually very accurate Well, now that I've seen it a couple of times on Broadway, I feel qualified to give a review to everyone here.

Overall, it's great, and you should see go see it the next chance you get. 

But if you don't have the chance to, simply listening to the soundtrack is a pretty great substitute. And, you can do that for free, song-by-song, on Youtube

If you get a chance to see it on Broadway, there is a great low cost option that I took advantage of. If you don't mind not having a seat, and standing for the entire show, you can get to the show 2 hours early and buy a Standing Room Only ticket for $28. Tickets to the show tend to run $150-500, so this is quite a deal. The view from the Standing Room Only spots is great. You are right behind the Orchestra seating, so you have a great view of the whole stage. I have now seen the show twice this way, and I really didn't even notice the standing. You have a little railing to lean against, and the show is so good that it really captures your attention. That said, wear some comfortable shoes if you plan to get a SRO ticket. 

There is also a way to get really good, cheap seats by doing the lottery. For most shows on Broadway they raffle off a certain amount of great seats for $30 or so. It's a tradition that was started with the show "Rent" and has continued on today with most shows... but, it's pretty unlikely your name will get drawn out of all of the people who try it,  so have someone waiting in the SRO line as a backup. 

The Eugene O'Neill Theatre, complete with the angel Moroni

My favorite parts of the show were the Ugandan's play for the church leaders, "Hasa Diga Ebowi", "Turn it off", which had an amazing dance number, "I believe", and "Baptize me". All of these songs were great songs themselves, but also had really funny jokes throughout them that really kept the energy of the show going.

I need to make one of these. 

Outside of the songs, the story played out like a long South Park episode, and that is not a complaint. The script stayed exactly where it wanted to be -- either lingering on a scene to make a joke, or skipping ahead quickly to get to where the action was. You notice this particularly in the beginning of the show, where the young elders are quickly paired up, given their mission destination, and then all of the sudden in the airport saying goodbye to their families. Since we don't really know the characters very well yet, there is no need to hang around.

The characters really felt like Mormons, which I felt was the strongest part of the show. They snuck in a lot of jokes about coffee, swearing, and irrational thinking into the script, and each of these jokes were hits.

One of my favorite running jokes was when Elder Cunningham couldn't remember Nabulungi's name, so he kept calling her "Nutella", "Neutrogena", and other words starting with N. It's a runnning joke that just keeps getting funnier as the show progresses. 

Technically, everything was amazing. But I would expect no less from a Broadway show that has been running for more than a year. 

Here are a few of my complaints about the show. First off, I question the use of voiceovers in telling the Mormon story in the very beginning. I think that it is clear that the angel Moroni, and Jesus are not actually speaking the words, and I think that it puts the audience on edge that the whole show may be done this way (which of course it won't). Since you are already paying actors to play these roles, why not make them speaking roles? Next would be the length of the "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" song, which drags a bit, and the continued, somewhat overdone joke about the doctor having maggots in his scrotum. It was an okay joke as a one-off line, but it wasn't good enough to warrant its continued reference throughout the show. I also think that the last "Orlando" reprise was a bit stale, and could have been eliminated. I think that the whole show could have used a really sharp editor who was willing to not be a yes-man to Matt and Trey. Of course they were going to write a good show, but some of the script should have undergone a little more scrutiny than a 22-minute show typically gets, because it will probably be on Broadway for 20+ years, and everyone will have to give pity laughs to any mediocre joke that slips in there. 

Also, ask the people at the box office if the roles of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are being played by understudies that night. One of the times I went, the role of Elder Cunningham was played by an understudy, and honestly, he was much worse. It really took away from the show, because he is such a critical role (and so hard to play). 

The show is touring around the country, so you'll probably have a chance to see it soon. If you've already seen it, let me know what you thought of the show in the comments. Did you like the maggots joke? 


teehee said...

There've definitely been a few times in Mormon's short history that seeing an understudy was preferable.

ticketdiscountcenter said...

The Book of Mormon is an old-style musical with a modern sensibility. This blockbuster show features several big song-and-dance numbers accompanied by some old-fashioned Broadway belting.

Book Of Mormon Tickets