Bass Hall, Fort Worth
Directors – Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
Music Supervision and Vocal Arrangements – Stephen Oremus
Music Director – Justin Mendoza
Choreography – Casey Nicholaw
Scenic Designer – Scott Pask
Lighting Designer – Brian MacDevitt
Sound Designer – Brian Ronan
Costume Design – Ann Roth
Mormon – Josh Daniel
Moroni – Brian Beach
Elder Price – Billy Harrigan Tighe
Elder Cunningham – A.J. Holmes
Missionary Training Center Voice – Ron Bohmer
Price’s Dad – Ron Bohmer
Cunningham’s Dad – Adam Ray
Mrs. Brown – Kelechi Ezie
Guards – Christopher Faison, Jamil Akim O’Quinn, Tyrone L. Robinson
Mafala Hatimbi – Stanley Wayne Mathis
Nabulungi – Alexandra Ncube
Elder McKinley – Brian Beach
Joseph Smith – Ron Bohmer
General – Corey Jones
Doctor – Josh Breckenridge
Mission President – Ron Bohmer
Ensemble – Ebony Blake, Josh Breckenridge, Michael Buchanan, Velayda Chapman, Josh Daniel, Kelechi Ezie, Christopher Faison, Logan Hart, Ben Laxton, Lacretta Nicole, Jamil Akim O’Quinn, Daniel Plimpton, Adam Ray, Steve Raymond, Tyrone L. Robinson, Kirstopher Thompson-Bolden
Reviewed Performance 12/2/2015
Reviewed by Joel Gerard, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
In the beginning, there was the voice of God. The very first scene of “The Book of Mormon” we hear creators Matt Stone’s and Trey Parker’s voices as Jesus and the angels. Their voices are instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen an episode of their on-going animated television show “South Park”. And if you know “South Park”, Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker specialize in hot-button topics and social issues that make you think and laugh. Make no mistake, “The Book of Mormon” is offensive, vulgar, sacrilegious, full of crude humor and foul language. It’s also incredibly hysterical and touching at the same time. I can’t think of another musical that makes me laugh as hard and shocks me as much as this one. It manages to offend EVERYONE of all races, religions, and beliefs. But it’s so darn funny that you can’t help but laugh and roll with the punches.
In 2011, “The Book of Mormon” won nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. It was extremely popular on Broadway and the national tour has been a sell-out as well. It tells the story of two Mormon missionary boys who get assigned to spread the word of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the less than desirable country of Uganda in Africa. They quickly realize that the local villagers are not interested any religious teachings, and are more concerned with poverty, AIDS, and warlords who threaten their population. Two naïve missionaries in particular try very hard to win over the locals. By making up stories to appeal to the villagers, they learn a lot about their own faith and how they can make a difference in the real world.
This witty and energetic show has been popular in part because of its creator’s love of musical theatre. Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone have a history of crafting songs for “South Park”. They were wise to share the writing responsibilities with Robert Lopez, a veteran who co-wrote “Avenue Q” and composed the songs for the wildly popular Disney movie “Frozen”. The songs are catchy and easily memorable. At times it plays like a satire of musical theatre kind of like “Spamalot”. There are several references to “The Lion King” and many pop-culture movies including “Star Wars”, “The Matrix”, and “The Lord of the Rings”.
This national tour is the first time the show has played in Fort Worth at Bass Hall after coming through Dallas twice. The two young men who played the leads Elder Price and Elder Cunningham both very ably carried the show. Billy Harrigan Tighe played Elder Price with a winning combination of youthful exuberance and determination. Mr. Tighe has the charm and good-looks to make Elder Prices’ conceitedness an endearing part of his personality. Elder Price changes the most on his journey from beginning to end, realizing that it’s ok to believe in whatever you want to believe in. A.J. Holmes brought a very different vibe to Elder Cunningham than I was expecting. Elder Cunningham is like the nerdy kid on the playground with A.D.D. who really just wants a friend and to feel included. Mr. Holmes was consistently funny and he dialed up the quirks and slapstick humor. At times though, I was unsure if Mr. Holmes was actually a good singer or not due to his funny voices and characterization which overpowered his vocals. Featured actress Alexandra Ncube plays Nabalungi, the daughter of a tribal leader in Uganda who develops a connection with Elder Cunningham. Ms. Ncube was really the emotional core of the show and deftly portrayed an innocence and longing for a better life. Her beautiful voice was one of the highlights of this production.
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker’s direction show their affection for big classic musicals. Everything moves along swiftly and never drags. Scenic design by Scott Pask is a delight. He created sets ranging from Salt Lake City to a Uganda village and from Heaven to Hell. Pieces and drop screens move on and off the stage quickly and fluidly. Strangely though I felt like it was a bit cramped at times on the stage at Bass Hall. The choreography by Mr. Nicholaw is all big smiles and jazz hands. High energy and sharp movements add to the fun of the songs.
Again, this show is full of adult content and not appropriate for young children. It is not uncommon for people to get up and leave during the show due to the content. In fact, I saw two couples leave before intermission. Which is too bad for them. They missed a side-splitting good time.
THE BOOK OF MORMON
Broadway at the Bass at Bass Performance Hall
525 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102
Runs through December 6th, 2015
Tickets: For dates, times, and ticket information go to www.basshall.com or call the box office at