Even if you don’t like musicals, you’re very likely to have heard of The Book of Mormon as it’s a huge global hit.
Since being first performed in New York in 2011, it has won multiple Tony, Grammy and Olivier awards and broken several records including selling out every one of more than 2,800 performances at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London!
So when it was announced that the show was coming to Bristol we were keen to see what all the fuss was about and whether it lives up to the hype. The quick answer is…it absolutely does!
The Book of Mormon is not for the easily offended
Now let’s get straight to point, if you are someone who gets easily offended, this is definitely not the show for you. It is very rude and we heard several gasps from the audience many times.
But if you can deal with that, you’ll love it!
The Book of Mormon tells the story of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, two newly trained Mormons who are paired up and sent on a mission to convert newbies to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On first sight the two are chalk and cheese; Price is a tall, classic all-American, white tooth smiling ambitious teenager while Cunningham is a short, bumbling chap who hasn’t actually read the Bible and can’t resist telling lies.
Price is desperate to be sent to his dream location of Orlando but they are told to go to a remote village in Uganda (queue references to The Lion King in one of many digs at the classic musical).
What follows is a chaotic experience in a remote African village as the pair battle cynical locals and a bloodthirsty warlord.
We were howling with laughter
From the opening number Hello! performed by white shirt and black tie clad Mormons jauntily practising ringing doorbells to sign up new believers, we were howling with laughter.
We arrive in Africa to a massive swipe at Western perceptions of the continent with everyone living in mud huts and suffering from AIDS.
There’s also a parody of The Lion King’s Hakuna Matata with the Ugandans singing ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’ which translates as ‘f*** you, God’, while Cunningham struggles to pronounce the name of villager Nabulungi; ‘Netflix’ and ‘Nigel Farage’ are among his attempts!
Other highlights are the superbly performed Turn It Off where Mormon elders teach the newbies how to suppress unwanted feelings and a scene set in Hell with a dancing Adolf Hitler and OJ Simpson is jaw-dropping.
Elder Cunningham baptising Nabulungi is one of the funniest moments of a show with loads of funny moments.
There’s no weak link
We knew very little about the actual story in The Book of Mormon before settling into our seats at the Bristol Hippodrome but we were blown away.
There’s no weak link in the cast but Robert Colvin and Connor Peirson deserve special mention. They are outstanding as Price and Cunningham and ooze chemistry. Nicole-Lily Baisden also shines as Nabulungi.
The Book of Mormon really does live up to the hype and while the Mormon religion takes a beating for comic effect, there is a powerful overall message that community and togetherness for a common cause can be very powerful.
The Book of Mormon is at Bristol Hippodrome until 22 February. Most shows in January are close to selling out but there is good availability for performances from 3 February. Buy tickets here.