WINDY CITY TIMES
The Book of
by Eric Karas
This article shared 659 times since Wed Jul 6, 2016
Music & Lyrics & Book by Trey Parker, Matt Stone & Robert Lopez. At: The Private Bank Theatre, 18 W. Monroe St. Tickets: 800-775-2000; BroadwayinChicago.com; $35-225 Runs through: Aug 14
Hello! The Book of Mormon tour is back in Chicago and as funny as ever. A overachieving Mormon Missionary Elder Price ( Ryan Bondy ) is partnered with an underachieving partner Elder Cunningham ( Cody Jamison Strand ).
Elder Price wishes to go to Orlando but winds up in Africa instead. As events unfold Price loses his faith while Cunningham finds his. Of course, under the guide of South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone as well as Avenue Q's Robert Lopez, it's a crass, over-the-top ride that is only for someone with a funny bone that is distinctly not politically correct. It also lovingly sends up the Mormon beliefs while promoting the core values of family, friendship and team work, which is why they get away with it.
Bondy, as Elder Price, has the heavy lifting of the show. He is in almost every scene and he does a terrific job. His plastered-on smile and confidence embodies the optimism under duress the part requires. Cody Jamison Strand, as Elder Cunningham, is more of a cartoon than SpongeBob down the block. His performance is shrieking followed by low-voiced reaction and very funny. They play well off one another. When they have to be serious, you buy it. Candace Quarrels, as the girl in the village, Nabulungi, brings a reality to her role that counter-balances the outrageous comedy. Her song "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" is beautiful. Bondy does a fine job on "I Believe," which is a highlight of the show. Jamison Strand's silly "Man Up" sends people laughing to intermission.
The supporting cast are really wonderful in this show. The Mormon Missionaries and the African villagers are all in perfect voice and really sell the comedy here. The dancing and the characterizations are all spot on. It's really hard to pick out one musical number to highlight either group because they all hit. I can say that by the time the African villagers are performing "Joseph Smith American Moses," the audience is rolling in the aisles. A few years ago Book of Mormon was as hard to see as Hamilton and it's still worth the hype. If you want to laugh and enjoy a fun musical that actually sends up musicals from Disney to The King & I, then this is for you. ( Younger or more sensitive viewers should probably stay home. ) "I believe" you'll have a great time.
This article shared 659 times since Wed Jul 6, 2016
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