Sorry, but this just had to be done…
* DING DONG *
My name is Gari Davies, and I would like to share with you the most amazing review!
Hello! My name is Gari Davies…
It’s a review about a show, that’s just opened on a West End stage!
It has, so many awesome parts, you simply won’t believe how much this show will change your life…!!
I have just been to see the Saturday matinée performance of The Book of Mormon, at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, and have to say right out that this show is absolutely going to blow your mind – it is a real game changer!!
This is also a review WITHOUT spoilers, so rest assured, it is safe to read ahead if you have not yet seen it (the show only started previews on Monday).
I was fortunate enough to purchase tickets immediately when they became available on the pre-sale, and boy, I am glad that I did – the show is now officially sold out (… and producers never ever say this, usually!!) until well in to the summertime, and it has been a very long 9 months since booking – especially as I’ve been a mad fan of the show since it opened on Broadway a couple of years ago.
I had the immense pleasure to be sat right in the middle of the stalls, in Row C, and I have to say that visually, this show works wonderfully! The sets and costumes are all well made, and the lighting is subtle but effective. Scene changes are also seamless.
Casting wise, everyone was absolutely superb, though with a massive West End quotient (you will recognise at least one or two people if you have been to the theatre in the last few years – everyone wanted in on this!!), perhaps this was to be a little expected.
Love of my theatrical life, Gavin Creel, returns to the UK, to open the West End show as the main character, Elder Price, a role which he fills perfectly, especially having played it on the US National tour. It is another role that he excels in, and I hope that he continues in it for many months to come.
Jared Gertner has also come over from the US to play Elder Cunningham, a role that he has played on both Broadway and the US National Tour – for me, his confidence in the role really helped to make believable a part that could so easily have been over played by anyone else. A real delight to watch, and absolutely the perfect chap for the role.
I’ve always been a fan of US-West End interaction (and think Equity’s “one in one out” policy is far too rigid, but then I digress…!), and this show absolutely benefits from having such well-established actors from the US here to get this show going – adding a real bit of fresh talent in to what, at times, becomes an occasionally stuffy West End roundabout.
My absolute favourite, however, was the delightful Alexia Khadime. I don’t think that there has been a show that she has done that I haven’t seen her in, and every time I catch her, I find that I love her even more. In the role of Nabulungi, she is fantastically cutesy/adorable and it was great to see yet another facia to her ever enhancing talent on the West End stage.
All other roles were played excellently, and if I were to sit here and pull them all out, I would be here forever!!! From the amazing ladies with their African choral voices, through to the inappropriately hawt Mormon lads, everyone shone commendably!
For those people who have heard the original cast recording and are perhaps a little concerned that they may have ‘spoilt’ it for themselves – fear not, you haven’t – the show adds a lot of context to the songs and makes them even funnier, in addition to all the dialogue present in the show too. Spooky Mormon Hell Dream was a song on the original Broadway cast recording that was towards the lesser end of my favourites (and which I had felt had a few too many close similarities for me with a similar song in Jerry Springer The Opera that I similarly didn’t like so much), but in the stage show it very quickly became one of my favourite sequences owing to the lavish production values, wider context and live performances.
In terms of the offensiveness of the show, I have to say that once the shock value goes, you very quickly find that it isn’t so much a show about mocking the Mormon religion, as actually going some way to almost promoting it – ultimately, I came out of it thinking that it gave out pretty cool and unique message that religion is adaptable to circumstance and not to take everything so literally. In two hours and thirty minutes this show does more to bring religion in to the 21st Century than the last couple of hundred years ever have!
Sure, there are more than a few jokes at the expense of the religion, but in terms of actual offence, if anything, you’re probably going to find the frequent bad language more off-putting to be honest (though in my opinion it is usually very well placed and reflects a lot of the social anguish present and focuses the attention of the audience on to the plight of the Ugandans, but this is not an essay on the technical breakdown of the show heh!) – have a listen to the song Hasa Diga Eebowai if you’re unsure if you can support the show, as this gives you most of / the ‘worst’ of it.
It’s odd to think that ten years ago - yes, it has been THAT long, gosh!!! – people were all up in arms over Avenue Q, and Jerry Springer The Opera, and some of their respective naughtiness, and that, even in such a relatively short period of time, attitudes have changed enough to allow something like Book of Mormon to flourish, with the renegade taboo element openly celebrated! We had people of all ages sat around us, and everyone, from the teenager to the older lady, were rolling in the aisles and screaming with delight!
This is a show that definitely pulls out all the stops, and lives up to all of the hype that it has been creating over the last few years. By the final curtain call (I absolutely led the standing ovation), I had actually cried one of my contact
lenses out, having laughed so hard!!
If Salt Lake City is the place of salvation for the Mormons, then it may just be that the Prince of Wales Theatre is going to prove the place of salvation for musicals in the West End.
Should you happen to buy a programme, you will be bombarded with many adverts asking you to consider joining the Mormons (a spectacular bit of placement), though I fear that if you send away for a book, you may not actually get to do as much singing and dancing for your commitment as the stage Mormons – which is a bit of a bummer! :P
Genuinely, The Book of Mormon is the best thing that I have seen in a theatre in such a long time, in terms of sheer entertainment, and I implore you to beg, buy, or steal a ticket to get to see this show – you will not regret it for one single moment!!
The Book of Mormon is currently in previews at The Prince of Wales theatre in London, and has its opening night on 21 March 2013. The show duration is 2 hours and 30 minutes (with one 20 minute interval included in that time). For all information, ticketing availability, and full details on the lottery scheme (which allows you the chance to secure up to two tickets on the day for the top price seating for just £20 each if you’re lucky enough to be drawn out – and is a great idea if you don’t currently have tickets and happen to be in London anyway) please visit the show’s official website.
NB – tickets for this show are in ridiculously hot demand at the moment, and rightly so. PLEASE make sure you only buy your tickets through an authorised ticket retailer, one which is a member of S.T.A.R.
I imagine there are a lot of unscrupulous West End ticketing shops making a fortune trading duff or super-price-inflated tickets at the moment. Make sure that you are paying the standard face value (plus whatever booking fee you feel is reasonable/acceptable to you), and be VERY wary of any retailer offering discounted tickets – for this show, these simply don’t exist at the moment, owing to the phenomenal demand!!
If you can’t get in to Mormon now, book it for later in the year and check out something else in the meantime – yes, this is an awesome show, but so are many other shows are fantastic too – pleeeease don’t do anything crazy out of desperation to see it – Mormon is definitely worth the wait!!
Tweets from the day: