Often I am asked “How can you watch a show you have already seen?” Live theater is not like watching a film that has been made, but, rather a one time performance of a script that never changes. Every night (or day if there is also a matinee), with a different audience in the house, the cast puts on the show, but with a different energy and dynamic, it can seem unique and different. That, my friends, is why I prefer “live” theater over watching a film. Tonight, I attended Broadway In Chicago’s “The Book of Mormon” on its return visit to Chicago. I brought my proof-reader and his wife. Neither of them had seen the play before, although Casey thought she had while in Florida. As it turns out, it was something else about religion that she saw- definitely NOT “The Book Of Mormon”.
For those of you unfamiliar with “The Book Of Mormon” it features a book, lyrics and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the creators of “South Park” and Lopez is one of the creators of the award winning “Avenue Q”. Just knowing that should tell you that you are in for a night filled with laughter. Also- be prepared! There is some language that will rattle the youngsters and even some of the older members of the audience were not prepared. BE PREPARED! If you plan to visit The Private Bank Theatre for this wonderful evening of laughter and spoof, you will hear some language including the F-Bomb, but you will have a ball!
The story is about, of all things, “The Book Of Mormon” and how it came to be written and ended up in Salt Lake City, and how young men are trained to travel as “missionaries” to save and teach others of the faith. From the opening number, as these young men introduce themselves and the traditional doorbell ring as they take on their mission, you will find laughter swelling up inside you, and guess what? Two-and-a-half-hours later, you will still be laughing. In fact, as we left the theater, I still felt the giddiness of the evening’s entertainment. While the story centers about two particular “elders” Elder Price (Ryan Bondy , who has been involved with three companies doing this role) and Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand, who is fresh from the Broadway company) it is about the Ugandans they are supposed to teach and the other Elders that have had no success in the past.
The original direction was by Casey Nicholaw (who also did the choreography) and Trey Parker and the sets by Scott Pask, costumes (Ann Roth) and lighting (Brian Ronan). When a show goes on the road, they follow the original pretty close, making adjustments as needed based on stage size (width, depth and sometimes “fly space”). Other-wise, they try to put the same show on the local stage as one might have seen in New York. They get it pretty close! With this cast, one might say, they have replicated the original,making this a true theatrical experience that you will recall for years.
This is a strong ensemble with great voices and agility. The ensemble members, despite having specific roles to play, also don other costumes and become other characters during the epic story-telling of this production. I truly feel that Elder Cunningham is the key ingredient for making this the experience it is ,and Strand has this down to perfection. What a talented young man. Standout performances by Candace Quarrels, Daxton Bloomquist, David Aron Damane, Melvin Brandon Logan and Edward Watts along with the ensemble makes this show a “must see” ( unless you are afraid of having fun) while it is still here.
“Mormon” will continue thru August 14th with performances as follows:
Wednesdays 7:30 p.m.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays 2 and 8 p.m.
Sundays 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $45- $120 and can be purchased at the theater box office 18 West Monroe Street (or any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices), by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000 or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com. You can also visit any Ticketmaster outlet.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, click Review Round-Up and then “The Book of Mormon”- watch the reviews as there still might be some from last time it was here (it did break records in Chicago).