And do you want to know what the best part of it was? I wasn’t expecting to laugh.
With my theatre subscription came tickets to see the highly anticipated musical, The Book of Mormon. Every friend who was lucky enough to score a Broadway ticket couldn’t stop raving about this production but I was more than skeptical when I heard that Mirvish was bringing it to Toronto.
Why so doubtful, you ask, when a show is receiving such high praise? My apprehension stemmed in part because The Book of Mormon was born from the partnership between the creator of Avenue Q and the creators of South Park. A South Park fan, I am decidedly not.
I tried in earnest to become a fan of the show when I was a senior in high school when almost everyone would quote something by Eric Cartman, but I just didn’t find it funny. Similar to how I didn’t get Jim Carey’s physical comedy, the acerbic and often offensive South Park characters did nothing to make me laugh and instead I wanted to turn the channel.
Upon taking my seat in the sold-out Princess of Wales theatre, I vowed to maintain an open mind all while considering how quickly I could make it home if I left the performance during Intermission.
However once the curtain raised and the graduating Elders took their place on the stage, I was transfixed from the opening number, Hello! and any attempt to mask a giggle, let alone a full-belly laugh, was relinquished by the time the lead Mark Evans belted out, You and Me (But Mostly Me).
Mark Evans and Christopher John O’Neill, who play Elder Price and Elder Cunningham respectively, carry the play from the beginning. O’Neill’s solo performance, Man Up is uproarious and showcases both the actor’s knack for physical comedy and his ability to make the stage his own.
It is worth noting that as strong as the lead performances are, Grey Henson, who is making his professional and touring debut as Elder McKinley is nothing short of a scene-stealer.
There is no denying that the creators of this show push the boundaries of humor and there were moments while other patrons dissolved into laughter, I was left wondering what was the joke? It appears that I am still the on the periphery of this genre of humor, or that some things are just not funny.
The curtain dropped after the final number, Tomorrow is a Latter Day, and with aching abs and sore cheeks, I checked my watch. It seemed impossible that I had just spent almost 3 hours in this theatre where earlier I had been planning my Intermission escape.
Now I know what all the hype is about and I am not a bit surprised that tickets to this performance are selling out faster than one can say Joseph Smith American Moses.
* Aside: After I wrote this post, I read the reviews for The Book of Mormon that appeared in the top circulated newspapers of the city. Evidently, I make a lousy critic.