The infamous BOOK OF MORMON is back in the OC once again this year at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The unique comedy is not for the feint of heart. With a fully tongue-in-cheek look at the religion and teachings of the book of Mormon, it delves into the lives of a group of Mormon missionaries in Uganda.
Adapted for the smaller stage of SCFTA, the production brings the misadventures of two particular Mormons who find that the path to faith can come in truly unorthodox ways. To say the show contains “explicit language” only touches the surface of the potentially offensive devices used to bring laughs.
If you’re familiar with the animated series South Park, you’ll quickly understand the brand of humor that creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have realized for this musical comedy. And while on the surface this type of humor may seem sophmoric and uncouth, it truly is layered in with a great story and dare we even say a moral. The visuals are fantastic, the vocals on par, and the comedy absolutely outrageous.
At its core, the show is a comedy but the singing is hardly a standby. In particular, A.J. Holmes brings a unique take to the character of Elder Cunningham that at once is completely irritating and yet irresistibly adorable and touching. Delivering surprisingly solid vocals in the few bits afforded to him, he is spot-on with his comedic timing making the delivery of his puns and outbursts all the more infectious.
Unfortunately, the same charm could not quite be found in his lead counter-part portrayed by Billy Tighe. Clearly a talented performer, he seemed to grasp at delivering a character as precocious yet likable as that created by Andrew Rannells who originated the role. The vocals were fine, even though it felt like he was in a race to finish them as quickly as possible. The biggest piece of his performance that felt lacking was a heart for his character of Elder Price. It was tough to connect to his character.
The supporting cast unsurprisingly packs a solid punch. Alexandra Ncube was also a true standout–perky and sweet–delivering absolutely flawless note after note. Her duet with A.J. Holmes was absolutely hilarious.
BOOK OF MORMON is clearly a winner. As long as you can stomach the over the top antics (and leave the kids at home) you’ll be in for a treat. Smart, funny, and full of talented performers, it’s an evening that will not be forgotten.
BOOK OF MORMON is playing at SCFTA now through April 3rd. More more information, visit scfta.org.