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The Book of Mormon Has Heart, Even If It Does Aim to Offend

However much designed to offend, The Book of Mormon delivers human warmth along with its calculated irreverence.

There are a series of brief skits, designed to offend, about how the Book of Mormon came to be, and while these struck me as unnecessary, they had considerable wit, if one gets past irreverent portrayals of Jesus Christ and other religious figures.

The excellent set, by Scott Pask, is warm and inviting, with some rich sky projections, and the set changes work quickly and almost invisibly, letting us see why this musical won its Tony. I liked less well the choreography, by Casey Nicolaw, though it received a Tony nomination. There is a lot of "flight attendant" hand-waving in the air, and booty-shaking, and so much energetic movement that activity alone could be masking a lack of invention. On the other hand, "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" may be too inventive for its own good (it even includes Star Wars's Yoda). But this is like complaining about a fly at the annual church picnic; the feast is still there to be savored.

Elder Price (Mark Evans) and Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O'Neill) get a sendoff from a neighbor (Phyre Hawkins).
Joan Marcus
Elder Price (Mark Evans) and Elder Cunningham (Christopher John O'Neill) get a sendoff from a neighbor (Phyre Hawkins).

Location Info

Map

Hobby Center for the Performing Arts

800 Bagby St.
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Music Venues

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

The Book of Mormon

Through September 15 at the Hobby Center, from Broadway at the Hobby, 800 Bagby. For information or ticketing, call 713-315-2525 or contact houston.broadway.com.

Despite having the same creators, The Book of Mormon is very different from South Park, which is a series of brilliant parables, sharply drawn and with incisive understanding of the foibles of human nature. The opening scenes here are largely frivolous — they have no soul and little heart, contributing instead much broad humor. But human warmth creeps in with the villagers, and the threads of plot are fused skillfully into a moral compass that is adroit and valuable, and its final message, delivered with wit and generosity of spirit, made us glad we shared a rich and rewarding experience.

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1 comments
adamsjohn1202
adamsjohn1202

"There are a series of brief skits, designed to offend, about how the Book of Mormon came to be, and while these struck me as unnecessary"

The idea that the skits they were created deliberately " to offend" is simply incorrect. The two skits (at the start of each Act) were used to give the audience a basic idea on the fundamentals of the Book of Mormon (the scripture). Most people haven't ever heard of the Nephites or the Lamanites, and they certainly don't know where they came from, what happened to them, or even how Joseph Smith came to find the plates which contained the records of these ancient people.  The point of the skit is to give the audience a quick and, yes, humorous overview of the complex subject. Otherwise, there would be plenty of parts of the musical that people would not get.  If you were actually offended, then I'm thinking it just flew over your head.

 
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