After "The Book of Mormon," I am Pregnant with Awesomesauce

Oh yes, I saw it…

When I realized I was going to see The Book of Mormon, after traveling and standing room rushing for almost 7 hours, I was feeling…well, actually I was feeling exhausted and frozen from chilling (literally) outside the Eugene O’Neil theater. But I did have that feeling of “FINALLY;” I was actually going to see arguably the best and most inaccessible show on Broadway…and it only took nine months!

I somewhat thought I was never going to see the show, at least within a year of so after it won nine Tony awards. Ticket prices are uncharacteristically high (some as much as $477 even) and I am never one to buy tickets more then a month in advance, let alone six months-to-a-year. My proximity to Manhattan affords me many an opportunity, but even rushing the show requires a major commitment and a dream.

Let me preface the rest of my write-up by saying that I was never really a huge fan of South Park or pro-Trey Parker/Matt Stone person. From what I have seen of their work, this is, by far, the most fantastic creation (in my opinion) to come out of their base camp because it is more challenging, well-written, sophisticated (oddly enough) and hilarious then anything I have seen of their’.

The plot revolves around wholesome, ambitious Elder Price (Andrew Rannells) and off-beat, corky Elder Cunningham (Josh Gad), two Mormon missionaries, being tasked with spreading the Mormon religion in Uganda. They run into adversity from the local residents and a warlord named General Butt Fu**ing Naked (somehow, that joke landed…go figure). When Nabulungi (Nikki M. James), one of the female residents, gets intrigued, there is a huge shift in the lives of the Mormon missionaries and the residents of Uganda. Simple enough, right?

Point, blank and simple…the show is mind-blowing in how awesome it is. From concept to execution, it exceeds every expectation and is worthy of every award out there. That is really saying something since the show is put on an unreachable pedestal of raves, awards and positive word-of-mouth. I did not anticipate saying this, but aside from being my favorite musical I have seen in the last year, it is quite possibly one of my all-time favorites. Again, that is saying a lot considering I have only seen the show once and it is already hovering around musicals I have loved for years.

What else I can I say that has not already been said about the show…it’s not just unique, dramatic, uplifting, hysterical, poignant, epic, passionate and creative. It is an enthralling experience that comes out of nowhere with its unconventionalality. It also has nary a low point because it is unique, dramatic, uplifting, hysterical, poignant, epic, passionate and creative. In fact, its “weakest” (using that word as loosely as possible) point is better then most shows in their entirety.

If I had to single one element of the story/music out, it is how masterful the entire presentation is. How they can go from over-the-top camp and gut-busting laughter to an unfortunate shooting and heartbreaking drama, and make it all cohesive and worthwhile, amazes me. The staging of each number is flawless too; not a misstep in the bunch.

In fact, because I clearly wore out my electrical thesaurus in describing Mormon’s flawlessness, I really do not have much to analyze or add. I am trying to resist a fanboygasm urging me to say “ZOMG, IN LOVE WITH THIS SHOW ASHSJSHGNEUJWKJH”

Too late.

Buy tickets, listen to the cast recording on their Facebook page (if you don’t own it already), see it as many times as you possible can, make it an annual or semi-annual tradition…as cliché as it sounds, it really is a “must-see” and I will be going about my days recommending it to anyone willing to listen. With that, I leave you some of the numbers and some highlights in the performing department.

One YouTube commentator called it “The Wizard and I” (one of my favorite Wicked numbers, by the way) of The Book of Mormon, and now I cannot get that accurate comparison out of my head. “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” says a lot about Price and Cunningham and starts to unveil the amazing, comedic chemistry of Rannells and Gad. What a crazy-fun number that really comes alive on stage.

Actually, that last line can be applied to nearly every number, so consider that a given from here on out.

This is basically the “Hakuna Matata” number. I maintain that the show is highly original, but this is the second musical number that is derivative of a number from another hit show. However, I don’t say that as if it were a criticism, especially the latter number because they made numerous references to the The Lion King and treated it like the expected, obvious comparison it was.

Besides, this is a perfectly raunchy and a laugh-out-loud hilarious song. I need a karaoke track and fast; HIT IT!!

Rory O’Malley is fabulous, no argument there, but the show coasts more on Gad, Rannells and even Nikki M. James. Hardly what I would call a scene-stealer (because the other three of the “Fantastic Book of Mormon Four” chew up the scenery like a buffet), but he is still a wonderful addition to the show. “Turn It Off” is a great showcase for him and the addition of sparkly vests is always a welcome sight.

Even with the Tony award, Nikki M. James still managed to stun the hell out of me. Not only because she sustained that thick Ugandan accent without missing a beat, but she blew the roof off with this number and gave us something beautiful (and beautifully sung) that goes back and forth from slight-comedy to dramatic ballad. Is anyone else in love with the orchestrations here? Seems pitch perfect to me.

I came into the show expecting to love Andrew Rannells (which I did, more on everyone’s favorite angelic creature later), but Gad was on the same level as him, comedically and vocally. “Man Up” sealed the deal for me considering how little I heard about him or his singing abilities (also, his last Broadway outing was William Barfee in 25th Annual..., which doesn’t require a strong-ish, belting voice). He surprised me with what he was capable of and how much I would dig his performance. Talk about a fully realized and committed character; major major kudos to him.

You have not lived until you witness this acid-trip of a number, which goes all out on the chorography, staging and costuming. This number is undeniably EPICified!

Believe me, a part of me gasped of excitement that I can embed an actual performance. It is the small things…

We lost at the Tonys.
Hasa Diga Eebowai!
And let’s be honest, I have had this performance on my desktop since I first saw it at the Tonys. After seeing it in person, I started jumping up and down and fist-pumping like a Saturday night at the club after doing a line of cocaine (who says Standing Room does not have it perks!?). It is the perfect combination of character, actor, vocals, staging, comedy…everything really. Absolutely astounding.

Yes, Andrew Rannells, Broadway’s very own porcelain figure, is **Insert list of synonyms for ‘perfection’ here**. Funny, heart-breaking, precise expressions and mannerisms…and he CLEARLY has a blast on stage. The man is made of win; end of story…

Between him and Gad, I have no idea what crack the Tony-people were on to have both of them lose out to supporting actor Norbert Leo Butz for the “Best Actor” Tony award. While Butz’ performance was great, he had a fraction of the stage time and nothing on these two. For my money, the award would have came down to these two (still love you Norbert!), with maybe a slight edge going to Rannells.

They turned the sacrament of Baptism into a heavily suggested sex romp. What else can I say…Life. Is. Made.

I laughed so hard at this number, especially the last two or so minutes, that I could not focus on the show for the following ten minutes. Anyone object? Didn’t think so.

And as I am finishing this entry up, I am blasting “I Believe” and thinking how I can rope in my friends and Brother into seeing the show…that’s the sign it did its job; I want to be a repeat viewer and subject my friends to the crazy-fun. Until the next time…keep a warm chair (or standing area slot) for me Eugene O’Neil Theater. I will be back!

In other news, I just had a good episode of "The NRNW Show" where I got to talking about The Book of Mormon and my positive take-away from the show Smash, which had its pilot episode released earlier well in advance of its Feburary release day. Check it out!

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Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/New York Times

1 comment:

The Book Of Mormon said...

Glad you had such a nice time . I loved the book of mormon! Saw it twice with josh gad and Andrew rannells both amazing actors–too bad they are no longer performing in the show.