‘The Mormons are coming!’ proudly proclaims the advert for the new West End show, The Book of Mormon.
Any musical written by the creators of the controversial cartoon series South Park was always going to cause quite a stir.
But Matt Stone and Trey Parker, along with Robert Lopez, have managed to successfully create the most eagerly anticipated musical in recent years.
The show was a massive hit on New York’s Broadway, where it received critical acclaim and nine Tony awards (the musical equivalent of the Oscars).
Performances were sold out months in advance, with the story set to continue here in the UK, where tickets are now practically gold dust.
For a new musical to already have its initial show run extended out until January 2014 is feat enough in West End history.
But, the question remains, underneath all the hype and clever marketing, is the show actually any good? The answer, in my opinion, is an absolute and resounding yes!
The show happily hurtles along at about 100 miles a minute and is hilarious, witty and clever throughout.
It gently pokes fun at the Mormon religion, whilst somehow managing to highlight some of the worst humanitarian issues facing East Africa.
No, I have no idea how they managed to do it either, and I was actually in the audience watching.
Be under no illusion, this is a musical from the creators of South Park, and within about 15 minutes you will be bluntly reminded of this.
The Book of Mormon is unapologetically crass, massively offensive and down-right outrageous at times.
Catchy, jaunty tunes and on-stage performances will try and distract you from the actual lyrical content of the songs.
Don’t be fooled, this is not some mere fluffy one-dimensional musical.
Sometimes you will find yourself questioning why you’re laughing at all. Some of the jokes are based on seriously unfunny things, and yet you find yourself swept away on the tide nonetheless.
The performers, it goes without saying, are incredibly talented. They bring their characters to life on stage with great enthusiasm and comedic timing.
Gavin Creel plays Elder Price; a popular, shiny, perfect example of a Mormon, who is sent on a two-year missionary tour of duty with the slightly dense, socially awkward and compulsively lying, Elder Cunningham.
Jared Gertner plays the other half of this odd-couple, and both actors seem to be genuinely having a ball playing their roles.
The main leads were both part of the original Broadway cast, and both brought with them a certain ease of experience to the show.
They certainly seem to be infinitely comfortable with their respective characters.
Superbly supported by West End familiars Alexia Khadime, Stephen Ashfield and Giles Terera and a fairly small, but larger than life, ensemble cast, the show carries absolutely no dead weight at all.
To give much more away of the plot would spoil the surprise and fun of the unravelling story, but I can safely assure you that you will be entertained, if not reluctantly entertained.
This is not a show for prudes or the easily offended, but if you can stomach it and somehow manage to get tickets, I would definitely recommend the ride.
The Book of Mormon is showing at the Prince of Wales Theatre near Leicester Square, London. Tickets range in price and can be brought online, by phone or in person at the theatre.
Photo courtesy of FullyFunctnlPhil, with thanks.
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