Book of Mormon – 17.08.22
Book of Mormon comes to Nottingham
A dazzling display that’s bound to convert you
This tour of Book of Mormon kicks off by plunging the entire Theatre Royal auditorium into darkness – a consistent occurrence throughout this production – and a stained glass arch is revealed amidst an angelic chorus.
Created by Robert Lopez, Trey Parker, and Matt Stone, their musical comedy has a reputation for its irreverence and crudeness; not a surprise considering the latter two creators are perhaps most famous for their work on South Park.
The story follows two Latter-day Saints missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, played by Robert Colvin and Conner Peirson, as they attempt to convert the residents of a Ugandan village to the Church.
As a duo, they complement each other well, Colvin’s smooth but straight-laced Elder Price balances Peirson’s awkwardly dorky Elder Cunningham nicely.
Peirson is adorable with his Starwars backpack and eagerness to please, capturing the audience heart as he attempts to help the villagers. It’s a shame that on his own Colvin’s performance is somewhat unremarkable; hopefully due to solely opening night nerves or inadequate warmup but his voice sounded rather strained meaning big vocal numbers like “I Believe” fall a little flat.
Aviva Tulley is gorgeous as Nabulungi – or Nuttella – her voice ringing clear to the back of the room and developing a glorious little growl in some of the less innocent moments.
Jordan Lee Davies is made for musical comedy, adding a fabulously camp flair to Elder McKinley.
The rest of the ensemble is fantastic – if a little eerie – as the overly perky Mormon recruits, while the villagers keep an impressively straight-face throughout the Mormon’s antics.
Scott Pask’s scenic design is deceptively simple to start with, tapestry style backdrops and standalone props wheeled in to indicate location including a neck pillow display for the airport. The staging gets increasingly complex throughout with details it would take numerous re-watchings to appreciate fully. One thing definitely appreciated in the moment is Ann Roth’s costume design, especially the amount of sparkles she incorporated. The two of them, plus Casey Nicholaw’s choreography come together to create some striking scenes – see Spooky Mormon Hell Dream – which definitely feels like a fever dream to watch.
Also memorable is the music, if you’re not already familiar with the tunes don’t be surprised to have “Hello!” randomly pop in your head for days afterwards! While there are various music styles throughout the show, the soundtrack remains cohesive, and always with a strong beat for Nicholaw’s vigorous choreography to lean into.
The South Park influence is pretty clear – there’s nothing subtle about this show – but it is funny in its absurdness and recurring punchlines while avoiding most of the offensiveness that deters people from South Park, unless you are a Mormon I suppose.
It’s not one for those sensitive to profanity, but if you’re into aggressively hypnotic choreography cursing God, a solid score, and eyecatching sets, give it a go. There’s a reason it’s won so many awards.
Book of Mormon is showing at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 10th September.