Have faith. That’s the hilarious lesson of The Book of Mormon, crusading for laughter in its current missionary effort, er, touring stop, Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center. While a few local bluenoses might be initially offended by the show’s sacrilegious language and actions (one song has natives in Uganda flipping the bird to the almighty) and joyously crude subject matter, the night I attended, most everyone in the audience became a true believer.
Touring productions endeavor to replicate hit shows from Broadway, where The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards
. This tour takes no shortcuts, with an energetic cast of 30. Scott Pask’s vibrant scenic design (piously framed by the outline of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City) shifts cinematically from a wasted village in Uganda to reverent Biblical scenes to a “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” replete with tap-dancing devils.
Mark Evens, as the clean-cut, egotistical Elder Price who yearns to be assigned to Orlando, Fla., and Christopher John O’Neill, playing Elder Cunningham, the compulsive liar who wins over the Ugandans with wildly embellished religious stories, do remarkable jobs with roles that were Tony-nominated by others on Broadway. Samantha Marie Ware, as the innocent Nabulungi, sings gloriously and charms her way through the arc of a becoming a believer.
Don’t doubt. Just go see The Book of Mormon. You’ll be converted.
The Book of Mormon,
presented by Broadway Across America at the Aronoff Center, continues through Jan. 26. Tickets and details: cincinnatiarts.org