In 2011, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone created an unexpected cultural phenomenon: The Book of Mormon. Most famously known for their crude and irreverent cartoon, the duo put together a smart, witty, and at times educational musical that captured the attention of the entire world. While most people knew them for their vulgar and offensive cartoon characters, fans of The Book of Mormon gave them respect as legitimate playwrights and talented musicians.
This isn’t to say there isn’t plenty of shock value and obscenity in the play, but it showcases an artistic integrity that can’t quite be found in South Park. In 2013, the play debuted in London’s West End, and has been pleasing crowds ever since.
The play casts Dom Simpson as the enthusiastic and naive young Mormon missionary Elder Price. Simpson captures the wide-eyed and ambitious personality of Elder Price perfectly, receiving laughs throughout the play while hitting all of the notes required by a musical performance. J. Michael Finley plays his partner missionary, Elder Cunningham, who doesn’t quite seem as excited by the mission to Uganda that these two have been sent on. Finley plays a great foil to Simpson’s Price, and the chemistry between the two is evident from the beginning.
Other members include Leanne Robinson as Price’s fleeting love interest Nabulungi, Steven Webb as Moroni and Elder Mckinley, and Richard Lloyd King as Mafala. Every actor does a great job portraying their character and showing the contrast between the young Mormons and the Ugandans with whom they are interacting. Hilarious interactions and quotes are prevalent throughout the play, and the songs, while irreverent, will have many people singing along for days after seeing the performance.
The music and choreography far exceed what one might expect from the creators of South Park, but don’t go into this play with a negative outlook. This is a legitimate musical that can rival many of the classics, hence why the original production won multiple Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. The West End cast does an excellent job of singing, dancing, and acting throughout the entirety of the play, making The Book of Mormon a hysterical, charming, and fun viewing for anyone who can handle the sometimes-offensive humour.
This play isn’t necessarily designed to be a knock on the Mormon faith, but more a look at the caveats of all religion and international relations. By taking a humorous approach, Stone and Parker created a masterpiece that can elicit laughs from even the most religious viewers. The West End cast and crew keep the story fresh with this production, and it is a highly recommended show for anybody visiting London.