Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
At this late date, what could one possibly say about The Book of Mormon? Written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone, and winner of nine Tony Awards, this musical has been packing them in on Broadway since 2011. Still, one may wonder how the show is holding up. The good news is that the touring company of The Book of Mormon, currently playing at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, is just as funny, offensive, and, yes, heartwarming as ever.
The freshness of this production extends to Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker's direction and, especially, to Nicholaw's choreography, which looks more dazzling than ever. The physical production also looks impressive, with Scott Pask's scenic design and Ann Roth's costumes being absolutely sterling. The orchestra, led by expert musical director Michael Keller, sounds great.
At the performance I attended, the standby for Elder Price, Luke Monday, went on and he very good and comfortable in the role. Looking movie-star handsome, with a powerful voice, Monday was completely satisfying. And yet it is Jordan Matthew Brown who pretty much steals the show, as Elder Cunningham. Brown makes the journey of his character a real joy, and he especially shines in the raucous first act finale, "Man Up."
As Nabulungi, Kayla Pecchioni has a lovely voice, which she lends it to the prettiest song in the show, "Sal Tlay Ka Siti." Also, her constant "texting" on an old typewriter is a hysterical running joke. One of the high points in the show is the duet that she shares with Brown's Elder Cunningham, "Baptize Me."
In smaller roles, Andy Huntington Jones is a fantastic Elder McKinley, leading the showstopping "Turn It Off" with pizzazz and a terrific smile, and also scoring in the humorous second act group number, "I Am Africa." As Nabulungi's protective father, Jacques C. Smith is quite good, and it is nice to see the fine Ron Bohmer, whom I saw in The Scarlett Pimpernel and The Woman in White on Broadway, playing Elder Price's father, as well as other parts. The collective company is uniformly grand, especially in the riotous, "Small House of Uncle Thomas"-like number, "Joseph Smith American Moses," which is laugh-out-loud funny.
The touring production of The Book of Mormon is a text-book example on how to keep a show completely up to the standards of the Broadway original. While some long-running shows may get a little sloppy and less crisp, it is obvious that the people behind The Book of Mormon have made sure that their musical feels as newly minted as ever and, if anything, even more tightened up and delightful.
The Book of Mormon, through April 14, 2019, at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury CT. For tickets, please visit www.palacetheatrect.org or call the box office at 203-346-2000.