Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Book of Mormon
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Antony and Cleopatra, The Adventures of Peter Pan, and Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been...


The Cast
Photo by Joan Marcus
On its third visit to Washington's Kennedy Center Opera House, The Book of Mormon sparkles as brightly as it did when it opened on Broadway in 2011. "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, joined by Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez, have written a musical that manages to be profane and innocent at the same time, not to mention outrageously funny.

Parker co-directed the musical with choreographer Casey Nicholaw, drawing on the traditional Broadway theme of cultures learning from each other (for a more serious version, see The King and I) as two young Mormon missionaries attempt to make converts in a part of rural Uganda coping with poverty, starvation, rampant AIDS, and violent warlords. The tone may be satiric, but the authors understand the need for belief and how religious dogma is always metaphorical, not meant to be taken literally.

Kevin Clay has the perfect shining veneer for Elder Price, an overachieving young man convinced that he is going to make history during his mission, and Conner Peirson squeezes every bit of humor out of Elder Cunningham, a rather dumpy fellow with a whining voice whose knowledge of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings trivia comes in handy when he least expects it to. Other standouts in the accomplished cast include PJ Adzima as a tightly wrapped missionary who leads a zany ensemble number about repressing unpleasant emotions, Sterling Jarvis as the tribal leader, and Kim Exum as the leader's daughter, whose acceptance of Mormonism as explained by Cunningham sets up one of the funniest musical sequences ever performed on Broadway.

The tour staging keeps things fluid as Scott Pask's scenic design (under a proscenium that suggests the towers of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City) moves easily from Utah to Uganda, including a stop in Hell, and Brian MacDevitt's lighting design allows for an instantaneous costume change (costumes by Ann Roth) in mid-production number. Nicholaw draws on numerous styles of dance, from African (as filtered through The Lion King) to old-fashioned Broadway tap and pageantry.

Kennedy Center
The Book of Mormon
October 24th - November 19th, 2017
Book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
Mormon: Tyler Leahy
Moroni: PJ Adzima
Elder Price: Kevin Clay
Elder Cunningham: Conner Peirson
Missionary Voice: Ron Bohmer
Price's Dad: Ron Bohmer
Cunningham's Dad: Jaron Barney
Mrs. Brown: Kristen Jeter
Guards: Will Lee-Williams, Tyrone L. Robinson
Mafala: Sterling Jarvis
Nabulungi: Kim Exum
Doctor: Johnny Brantley III
Elder McKinley: PJ Adzima
Joseph Smith: Ron Bohmer
General: Oge Agulué
Mission President: Ron Bohmer
Ensemble: Jaron Barney, Johnny Brantley III, Jake Emmerling, Zach Erhardt, John Garry, Eric Geil, Keisha Gilles, Daryn Whitney Harrell, Kristen Jeter, Kolby Kindle, Tyler Leahy, Will Lee-Williams, Stoney B. Mootoo, John Pinto Jr., Jamard Richardson, Tyrone L. Robinson
Directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker
Choreography by Casey Nicholaw
Music supervision and vocal arrangements: Stephen Oremus
Opera House, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Ticket Information: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 or www.kennedy-center.org


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