Saturday, May 7, 2011
The Book of Mormon ****
The critical praise heaped upon "The Book of Mormon" was so lavish that I was afraid that my expectations might be too high. I needn't have worried -- it really does live up to all the hype. This clever musical by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone describes what happens when two mismatched young Mormons (Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells, both outstanding) are sent on a mission to an impoverished, AIDS-ridden village in Uganda. Much has been made about the show's naughty language and ridicule of religion, but its heart is sweet and pure. It is the model of a well-made Broadway musical with hummable songs, terrific production numbers, and a satisfying narrative arc. The ensemble is the best I have seen since "The Scottsboro Boys" and Casey Nicholaw's lively choreography puts them through their paces. Scott Pask's sets and Ann Roth's costumes are excellent. The direction, shared by Nicholaw and Parker, keeps things moving without slack. It's one of the rare shows where the best is yet to come after intermission. All in all, a very satisfying experience.