The Book of Mormon has been one of the most talked about musicals to ever make its way down under, and this weekend the Australian premiere was held in Melbourne to officially commence its long awaited run on our shores – some six years after it made box office history in New York City. The comedic musical comes to us from the the creators of South Park and Avenue Q, and it’s a show that is so wrong, yet so right… wrong in all the best ways – the ones that will have you in stitches from start to end. Believe the hype. This show is not to be missed.
There was some outrage leading up to the show, with its two leads – Elder Price and Elder Cunningham – taken from their touring US cast, rather than employing locals. Given this, there was a lot of pressure on both actors to prove they were more worthy than our homegrown talent, and though many may argue one way or another, both leads were truly excellent and should hold their head high on our stage. While Ryan Bondy (Elder Price) had a shaky start, A.J. Holmes (Elder Cunningham) undoubtedly carries the show. The innocent nature of this character paired with his outrageous imagination and comedy make for outstanding chemistry between any and all cast members who interact with him.
There is no denying that our Aussie men and women were the creme de la creme and their commitment to each note, each movement, or each knock on a door was perfection. The ensemble of Mormons really are some of the best male performers we have in Australia and the show is a testament to their athleticism, skill and sheer dedication to the Mormon brotherhood. Rowan Witt as Elder McKinley brings a flamboyance like no other as the closet homosexual, and his parading around the stage is nothing short of hilarious.
Interestingly, the African cast is predominantly made up of international imports as well leaving but a mere four Aussies represented. However, the fact that two of the African leads are our very own Bert LaBonté as Mafala and Zahra Newman as Nabulungi makes our hearts flutter, with the two playing father and daughter in a Ugandan village going through some rather troubled times. Newman’s vocal chops are exquisite and her banter with Holmes is some of the best we’ve seen. LaBonté is one of Australia’s star performers and seeing him in a more relaxed and fun role was certainly a nice shake-up to the norm.
If you’re not necessarily into musical theatre and the idea of a theatrical soundtrack pains you, let us assure you that this here show is providing the tunes; and then some! Think of everything that is so highly politically incorrect, seasoned with some crass language and a handful of gutter talk and you’ve got yourself one cracking double-sided album. The colourful (and clever) nature of the songs are what make this show, and the three geniuses behind it have delivered a body of work that will stand the test of time.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park and Robert Lopez from Avenue Q have created a show so magnificent you have to see it to believe it (though do keep the young ones at home). The show is two-and-a-half hours of sheer intellectual and comedic brilliance, with every moment a highlight from the one before. There are far too many key moments to share, but here are seven why you should see this show. You will not regret spending the cash. It is worth every damn dollar.
The Book of Mormon is currently playing in Melbourne until May and tickets are quickly selling out. For further information and dates, click HERE. Or, if you’d like to take a chance and win the $40 lottery, all you have to do is head to The Princess Theatre two-and-a-half hours before each show and put your name down. Good luck!
The reviewer attended the show on opening night, Saturday 4th February 2017.
Photos of Australian production by Jeff Busby.