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The Book of Mormon – Liverpool Empire

Reviewer: Helen Patrick

Book/Music/Lyrics: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez & Matt Stone

Director: Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker

The Multi-Award-winning hit musical The Book of Mormon has finally landed in Liverpool following a 2-year postponement due to covid. It may have seemed a long time before we finally got to bear witness to the haphazard ways of Elder Price (Robert Colvin) and Elder Cunningham (Jacob Yarlett) but the wait was almost heavenly.

Created by South Park’s Trey Parker and Frozen/Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon is a riotous romp through all things Mormon from its humble beginnings to the adventures of mission. When Elder Price – a young egotistical missionary and Elder Cunningham – an imaginative outsider are forced together to go on their two-year mission to Uganda, things take a turbulent turn, one which threatens to de-rail the whole Ugandan mission, not only for them but for the missionary’s already “hard” at work.

Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker’s direction is slick, fast-paced and moves from scene to scene with fluidity – but it is the ability to not take any prisoners – nobody is safe from the jokes within the production and arguably that’s what makes the show so successful. It must be noted, however, that during the pandemic following concerns from cast members of productions around the world about how the show handles and deals with certain topics for ethnic minorities – the show went back into a workshop period. These changes, move the focus of many jokes away from the Ugandan people and places them more on the Mormon Missionaries – these changes are small but significant, and it’s refreshing to see producers and creatives embrace and listen to the concerns of its cast. Nicholaw’s engaging choreography is also something special – there is a freshness to its concept that feels unique but also nods gently to the Golden Age of ensemble musical theatre.

The cast are uniformly excellent, on press night we were blessed by the performance of Jacob Yarlett as Elder Cunningham. Yarlett manages to wring every possible gag from the script with punch and pizzaz – he is the perfect foil to Robert Colvin’s strait-laced Elder Price. The pair both executing their songs with excellence. Aviva Tulley is also brilliant as Nabulungi – the young Ugandan who befriends Elder Cunningham their rendition of Baptize Me being a particular highlight. Other stand-out numbers include the crazy Spooky Mormon Hell Dream, Hasa Diga Eebowai and Turn It Off.

Scott Pask’s set design riffs with African texture but allows an element of fun to come out especially in the more in-your-face American backcloths, while Brian MacDevitt’s lighting design is colourful and atmospheric.

The Book of Mormon is a resounding success (although for those who may be easily offended you may want to hand your tickets back so some of us can go again!) The Jokes come thick and fast – how can you not have tears running down your face during the Ugandan retelling of the story of Joseph Smith? The cast’s energy is electric and the chemistry and camaraderie between all is tangible. This five-star hit certainly brings a slice of musical theatre Heaven to Liverpool for the next three weeks.

Runs until 13 August 2022 and continues on its UK Tour

The Reviews Hub Score

Heavenly Hilarious

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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