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First staged in London’s West End in 2013, The Book of Mormon has been delighting and shocking theatre goers for over seven years. From the minds behind the unfiltered animated comedy series South Park, the musical comedy embodies a similar tact, making light of occasional serious themes but with the celebration of the good in humanity at its core.
As the musical continues its acclaimed run at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre, here’s everything you need to know about The Book of Mormon.
Photos may not represent current West End cast
The Book of Mormon follows newly graduated missionaries Elder Price and Elder Cunningham who, despite their evident differences, are paired together and despatched to a village in Uganda to spread the word of their faith. With Elder Price suffering from delusions of grandeur and with Cunningham displaying only a vague grasp of their religious scriptures, their mission to convert and baptise the locals proves hilariously disastrous. Battling with local warlords, the devastation of AIDS and famine, and their trouble in finding common ground, the Mormon pair must work out now just how to impress their church, but also adapt to an all-new culture.
Elders Price and Cunningham are played by Don Simpson and Tom Xander respectively. Both make their leading debuts in The Book of Mormon, with Simpson having moved over from acting as standby Elder Price on Broadway.
The pair lead a huge ensemble cast including Steven Webb as the increasingly less closeted Elder McKinley – who all-but steals the show whenever on stage – and veteran stage and screen actor Richard Lloyd King as respected villager Mafala Hatimbi.
Other cast members include Leanne Robinson as Nabulungi and Dean Maynard as a trio of characters; Price’s Dad, Joseph Smith and the Mission President.
Often crude and always clever, The Book of Mormon doesn’t hold back with its satirical take on organised religion, unwanted religious conversion, and the West’s saviour complex. Laugh out loud funny and incredibly poignant, the musical balances on a very fine line between controversial comedy and heart. Creative trio Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and Robert Lopez – between them responsible for TV’s South Park and the equally hilarious stage musical Avenue Q – may take shots at almost every corner of society yet their tongues remain firmly in their cheeks.
The Book of Mormon balances its unabashed, adult-themed, direct humour with a genuine level of humanity and an unbroken series of laughs. Even the most unsavoury jokes carry a positive undertone – either so vastly satirical that offence is impossible or so sharp-witted audiences can’t help but crack wide smiles. The musical numbers of brilliantly ridiculous, not least when a group of white male missionaries declare themselves the saviours of Africa in the accurately titled I Am Africa, or Elder Price comes face-to-face with the devil himself during visual masterpiece Spooky Mormon Hell Dream. It is in the darkest of comedy that The Book of Mormon finds the light in humanity.
“It’s hilarious. God have mercy upon my soul” ★★★★★ – The Sunday Telegraph
“Foul-mouthed, funny and wild. Terrifically entertaining.” ★★★★★ – Metro
“It’s not just great: it’s Mormonumental” ★★★★★ – Huffington Post
“Brash, crude, and offensive. A massive hit.” ★★★★ – The Independent
“The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs was scarcely more of a hit.” ★★★★ – Time Out
The Book of Mormon remains open at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre, with an approximate running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes including the interval.
Book before the 30 June 2019 to pay no booking fee. Access the offer here.
Tickets for The Book of Mormon are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.