The Book of Mormon is back at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre for a two-week run, ready to light up your January with a few hours of laughs. The musical, which basically swept the Tony Awards in 2011, taking home ten trophies, holds up well on tour. There is something that just feels right about setting the story of Mormon missionaries in Uganda in the wonderfully weird Fox Theatre.
If you’re not familiar with the show, the first thing you need to know is that it was written by Matt Parker and Trey Stone, the guys behind South Park (along with Robert Lopez). So, if you find an average episode of the television show to be outside your sense of humor, then you should stick to more pedestrian fare. But if you’re able to abandon your sensitivities and laugh at life’s absurdities, you will likely come back to see the show again and again. The story follows the seemingly perfect Elder Price and his misfit partner Elder Cunningham as they attempt to convert the local population in Uganda to the Mormon faith. Along the way, Parker and Stone take some light-hearted jabs at the teachings in the Book of Mormon, while at the same time acknowledging that blind faith “is kind of what Jesus was going for.”
At its heart, the show is about the relationship between the two lead characters and how we all communicate with each other. You may have your jaw dropped and shake your head at some of the deliciously silly, shocking lyrics, but you’ll also walk out of the theater humming catchy tunes like “I Believe.” A standout in the cast is Candace Quarrels as the female lead, Nabulungi (a.k.a., Neutrogena, Nissan Altima, etc.). Her strong, pure voice anchors the humor effectively. As Elders Price and Cunningham, Ryan Bondy and Cody Jamison Strand have big shoes to fill, given that the original Broadway stars, Andrew Rannels and Josh Gad were extremely popular, but they capture the characters’ journeys admirably. The real star of this musical is the book, fittingly, but it takes talented performers to commit to the over-the-top dialogue and demeanors.
Even fans of South Park will be surprised at what an effective musical Parker and Stone have created. This isn’t just a matter of expanding a sitcom episode and throwing in some songs; the clever crafting evidences a genuine respect for the art of theater, even as the show teases other productions like The Lion King. After all, in order to be an effective parodist, you have to truly know your subject matter, and the writers here clearly have an actual deep appreciation for the work that goes into creating an effective musical.
The show runs through January 24, 2016, and tickets are on sale online.