Review – The Book of Mormon

1.163482I made an impulsive decision yesterday to catch “The Book of Mormon” at the Aronoff Center.  Everyone raves about this show, talks about how funny it is, and praises it with heaping piles of compliments.  That’s dangerous.

I was able to sit in a Balcony Box, which was interesting.  I only think I missed one or two things from the angle I was at and the comfort of the chair was one of the highlights.  Other highlights for me were the voices.  This is an incredibly talented cast and when they harmonized, I got chills.  The dancing was great and the storyline was certainly creative.

So why am I having such a hard time with this show?  I can tolerate some pretty crude stuff.  I don’t mind sexual content, cuss words, or toilet humor.  I thought the South Park movie was really funny and I reluctantly find myself laughing at “Family Guy” regularly.  But I change the channel when they start making fun of Jesus or using God as fodder for funny.

And that’s my problem with “The Book of Mormon.”  I don’t think I’m a big giant stick in the mud, I really don’t.  I just have some hangups about . . . oh, I don’t know . . .blasphemy and spending an eternity in Hell.  It’s my thing and I realize that many (maybe none?) of my readers won’t share the same beliefs about it, but there’s just something that creeps me out when you have Jesus calling people a “dick.”  I’m also squirmed quite a bit when the comparisons were made between baptism and sexual intercourse.  I just don’t like that.

Mark Evans is Elder Price
Mark Evans is Elder Price

But, I certainly can’t take anything away from the work of the two leads, Mark Evans and Christopher John O’Neill.  Evans was especially impressive as a singer, a dancer, and his comic timing was impeccable.  And when you take into account that he was born in Wales, I have even more respect because there were no traces of any sort of European accent.  Even from my seat high above the stage, his charm shown through.  O’Neill had great energy, though I did find that he was less funny as the show wore on.  But perhaps that’s because I was made so uncomfortable by the baptism stuff that I was judging him too harshly.

I loved what Samantha Marie Ware brought to the part of the naive, sweet, and hopeful Nabalungi.  What a tremendous voice on this young woman.

There’s absolutely nothing I can say negative about anyone in the cast’s ability to sing or dance.  I enjoyed the tech – especially the lighting, I thought the band was great, and it was fun to be able to look right down in the pit and see the musicians and over to my right and view the video monitor for the keyboarding conductor.  I enjoyed the other folks in my quite-fancy balcony box, as well. It was a fun night of theatre.

JR Bruno
JR Bruno

Did you know there were several local connections in this touring company?  JR Bruno, a graduate of the Cincinnati School of Creative and Performing Arts is a member of the Ensemble.

josh-daniel--3c1ad6eb1cf7df2a
Josh Daniel, a 2013 graduate of UC-CCM, is one of the swings in the touring cast of “The Book of Mormon”

Josh Daniel, a swing in the musical, is a recent graduate of UC-CCM.  I’ve had the privilege of seeing him perform several times when he was a student and I am delighted to see him getting a big break this early in his career.

Ron Bohmer
Ron Bohmer

Finally, there’s Ron Bohmer, a Cincinnati native, who has had a successful career in theatre, film, and television.

All in all, “The Book of Mormon” is an amazing success for a reason.  It is very funny.  The music is catchy, memorable, and fun.  And its a fresh take, a wild perspective on faith and relationships, and is of course.  The theater was almost completely sold out.  If you’ve got the funds (and a sense of humor), you should check it out for yourself and see what you think but keep in mind sometimes when there’s this much hype, its hard to live up to it.

Tickets and information are available here.  There is a ticket lottery for great $25 seats that occurs two and a half hours prior to showtime:  Click here to learn more.  The show runs from now until January 26th at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Downtown Cincinnati.

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