Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book of Mormon

The Tony award winning Broadway musical, Book of Mormon has opened its national tour in Denver. Winner of 9 Tony awards last year, the musical has been a smash hit in New York and is proving to be the same in Denver. It is sold out for its entire run (8/14-9/2) at the Ellie Caulkins Opera house.

Certainly national tour sales are driven in part by the buzz that a Broadway/Tony Awards hit can engender. But combine that with the fact that it was written by Colorado’s own ‘South Park’ guys – and the buzz that South Park engenders – the topic, ongoing focus on Mormonism because of the Presidential race.

I saw it and I understand why it is a hit. And I don’t think anyone in any of the sold-out nights will go away disappointed – well maybe, but very few. Only those, I think who came expecting an anti-Mormon, biting, scathing satirical rant. The Book of Mormon is not any of that. It is an old-fashioned feel-good musical – even one that deals with Aids and other tragedies

Rather it pokes gentle fun and it is fun to watch and laugh out loud funny.

It is a likable musical (musicals are after all entertainment) with likable characters. Particularly Elder Cunningham as played by Jared Gertner. His hysteria-prone goofiness is endearing and Gertner plays it for all it is worth.

Also terrific is Samantha Marie Ware as Nabulungi – and thank you Ms Ware for noting in your program biography that you are a proud member of Actor’s Equity.

The songs are hummable and the vocals good – some voices are truly outstanding, which brings me to one of my pet peeves: the use of wireless microphones to amplify actors’ voices. In a theatre like the Ellie – designed as an opera house with the specific purpose of projecting singing voices – there is no reason for this.

However this is not uncommon anymore. The use of the wireless microphone has become ubiquitous, even in a small house of five hundred seats. Nonetheless I don’t like it. Part of the training of singers and actors is the ability to project the voice without seeming to do so.

Okay, enough of that rant.

Let me also say, the small pit-orchestra (band really) worked very well with the cast. The point of live performance is the spontaneity and interaction of cast and audience – which cannot be fully realized with a live cast and recorded music.

If you don’t have tickets, it is too bad. This is a terrific show and I am sorry you will miss it. From here it travels to Los Angeles and the Pantages Theatre. There are still tickets there, so maybe you could grab a flight….

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