Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
This time out, the touring company seems a bit bedraggled, the dancing energetic but lacking precision, and the principals seeming to be without the requisite star power to do full justice to the three leading roles. Still, nine years out, the show continues to play to packed houses on Broadway. The production travels well, with little loss of wow factor in the sets and costumes. By my count the touring cast is only a couple of people smaller than its Broadway version.
Liam Tobin as Elder Price is Midwest handsome and could indeed be around the age of 19. His singing is a decent male belt, but it just doesn't stir up any major excitement in his key songs. He pours it on for "I Believe," but I felt the strain. His acting chops are adequate, but the character remains undefined beyond the script. Jordan Matthew Brown as Elder Cunningham gets off to a satisfactory start, but begins to better find his footing in the act one finale, "Man Up." In act two he finds a higher level of star quality and reaches new heights. Alyah Chanelle Scott sings her big number, "Sal Tlay Ka Siti," without the requisite excitement if she is going to convince me that this part can win a performer a best supporting actress Tony Award. All three appear to have been plucked from the chorus, elevated to these roles. It might be time for some open casting to infuse the cast with some new blood.
As far as the ensemble work goes, the big tap number "Turn it Off" in particular gets off to an imperfect start, but it picks up as the number goes on.
Direction is credited to original Broadway director Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker. If that is true, perhaps its time for an unannounced visit with notes from one or the other.
Even in less than perfect condition, The Book of Mormon seems to be a crowd pleaser. The opening night audience in Sarasota was on its feet cheering.
The Book of Mormon runs through January 12, 2020, at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information, call 800-826-9303 or visit www.VanWezel.org. For more information on the tour, visit bookofmormonbroadway.com/tour.
Cast (in order of appearance):