When The Book of Mormon opened last year it quite literally took the West End by storm. The show, which transferred from Broadway, has been greeted by British audiences with open arms and producers boast that still to this day there has been no seat unsold.
The Book of Mormon is a revolutionary show and pushes boundaries just about as far they can go, breaking almost every single rule in the rule book. However, what makes Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone's show work is the fact that it doesn’t simply rely on being outrageous. Without the swearing and level of rudeness it would still be a strong musical. The Book of Mormon has everything you would expect from a big Broadway Musical: a catchy score, plenty of dance breaks, a tap number, and a strong cast showcasing big, belty vocals.
The humour is what makes this musical like nothing else ever seen in the West End. The show is so fresh and brings something completely different to the West End. It seems to take a lot of people by surprise and I have spoken to many people who have already seen The Book of Mormon multiple times (as have I).
The buzz in the theatre, both before, during and after the performance is unlike nothing else I have ever experienced. So many people find themselves in uncontrollable fits of laughter throughout. The show follows two Mormon missionaries who are sent to Uganda to convert a village, a challenge which is not straightforward. If there was ever a show which should not be taken seriously... it is The Book of Mormon. For some it is outrageous fun and for others it is a guilty pleasure.
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone's book and score is unusual as not one second of the show drags on too long and there is not one single weak, forgettable musical number - I don't think I can say the same about any other musical?
The cast are out of this world, each and every one performing to perfection. Gavin Creel, fresh from starring in the US National Tour owns the stage like I have never seen anybody else do before as Elder Price. This was my second time seeing him in the role and his portrayal has grown so much and his vocals are rock solid.
At first Elder Cunningham hides in Elder Price’s shadows, but as the show progressed Daniel Buckley (standby Elder Cunningham) stole the spotlight and the affection of the audience. He makes the role his own and had the entire audience in stitches. His rendition of ‘Man Up’ was the highlight of the show and during the final bows Buckley received the biggest cheer from the adoring audience.
Alexia Khadime is quite simply West End royalty - is there anything she cannot do? Her portrayal of Nabulungi is sweet yet funny and her vocal performance is once again jaw-droppingly faultless. Alexia delivers both Sal Tlay Ka Siti and Hasa Diga Eebowai effortlessly.
Another stand out performance comes from Stephen Ashfield who adds a glimmer of British humour to his portrayals of Moroni and Elder McKinley. Turn It Off was another highlight, just when you think The Book of Mormon can't get any more ridiculous... it does. The ensemble are fierce, precise and tight, all the big musical numbers are quite a spectacle. Scott Pask's scenic design is pretty basic and at times looks a little cheap but it fits in nicely with the mick-take feel of the show.
If you are easily offended then quite simply do not book tickets for this show. It is extremely offensive and the language is obscene. The Book of Mormon is daring, bold and in your face and looks set to run in the West End for years.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
Reviewed on Tuesday 7th January 2014
The Book of Mormon is booking at the Price Of Wales Theatre until 3rd May 2014.