The Book of Mormon

Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Prince of Wales Theatre, London
Cast: Blair Gibson, Conner Peirson, Beatrice Penny-Touré, Colin Burnicle, Kirk Patterson, Edward Baruwa, Ron Remke, Brian O'Muiri, Char Burnett, Christopher Copeland and Nic Vani 

The Book of Mormon musical first opened on Broadway in 2011 before it made its London theatre debut in 2013. The plot of the laugh-out-loud musical follows two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as they work to spread the word of the church of the Latter-Day Saints. Based in a small town in Uganda, the Mormon pair attempt to navigate a whole new landscape while working on a mission to convert the inhabitants to their religion — with hilarious results.

After seeing The Book of Mormon for the first time in early 2023, it's fast become one of my favourite musicals in the West End. Initially, I thought the material might have been slightly too boundary-pushing for me, but the production manages to rein back in before ever going too far. However, if you are easily offended, this probably isn't the best choice of show for you. It may be outrageously inappropriate at times, but it's a ridiculously brilliant piece of theatre.

If you're unfamiliar with The Book of Mormon, it's book, music and lyrics are written by South Park creators, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. The book is undoubtedly funny, and the show contains a myriad of catchy numbers spanning a range of music genres. 

The story follows two Mormons, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham. The duo have been paired together for their first Mission together as Mormons. Their Mission takes them to the most unexpected destination. Elder Price longed for Orlando, however, he's led to a small village in Uganda. The pair are starkly different which makes their interactions funnier than they should be. After arriving in Uganda, they realise their Mission of recruiting new Mormons may be even more difficult than they first envisaged.

Having seen a few actors in the role of Elder Price, Blair Gibson shines the brightest. His vocals in "I Believe" and "Mostly Me" are simply outstanding, and he brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the role that I've yet to see anyone else bring. In this performance, we had the wonderful Kirk Patterson as Mafala and his portrayal is truly a sight to behold. His version of "Hasa Diga Eebowai" is just sublime.

One of this show's leading attributes is the quality of its ensemble. As I watched the show from the circle for the first time, it gave me the opportunity to truly appreciate the choreography, and the ensemble in all of their glory. In particular, ensemble member Zachary Miller was utterly brilliant. He particularly stood out during his solo in "Turn It Off", and his one-liners throughout the show provided a lot of much-deserved laughs. 

Standout numbers from the show for me are "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" and "Joseph Smith American Moses". Both equally shocking and wickedly funny. Over-the-top, boundary pushing and most importantly, overflowing with talent in both numbers.

The scenic design by Scott Pask is definitely worth highlighting. The set changes with ease from an airport in America, to a small town in Africa. A lot of the time you notice set transitions, but the transitions are so smooth that it feels as though the set has just materialised before your eyes. Also the jarring lighting design by Brian Macdevitt is a bold choice that pays off at creating the perfect atmosphere once we arrive in Africa.

One thing's for certain, you'll be howling with laughter throughout the production. In fact, I often have tears of laughter streaming down my cheeks for "Joseph Smith American Moses", and last night was no different. I will reiterate, this show is not for the easily offended. For example, if Hitler receiving head from a Mormon is a step too far for you, you may need to rethink your show choice.

Having returned many times to The Book of Mormon, I can confirm it's still as brilliant and as fresh as my first visit. The world is a dark place at the moment, and The Book of Mormon provides some of the light-hearted relief we need. I hope this production stays on the West End for the foreseeable future, as it simply wouldn't be the same without it. I'd go as far as to say that this is my favourite show in the West End at the moment.

You can book tickets to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, here.

**photo credit: Johan Persson**

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