Grey Henson boasts a babyish face and is 6'3" tall -- a combination that probably isn't right for every part but turned out to be perfect for that of Elder McKinley, the somewhat repressed missionary in the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical The Book of Mormon.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park, took their relentless irreverence to Broadway and although some may have been praying for them to get their comeuppance, that didn't happen. Instead, The Book of Mormon, co-created by lyricist Robert Lopez (Tony-award winner for Avenue Q) was a hit right from the start when it opened on Broadway in 2011, making back its investors' money in just nine months.
And now, it's in its first national tour and coming to the Hobby Theater Center, courtesy of Gexa Energy Broadway. There are still some tickets left but they're going fast. There's also a lottery -- but more on that later in this post.
The somewhat involved plot centers on two Mormon missionaries who've gone to a remote area of Uganda to spread the good word only to find that their goals and that of the villagers they've come to convert, are not at all the same.
Henson, a 2012 Carnegie Mellon graduate, who plays McKinley (with the signature number "Turn It Off") says the musical has been so successful because "it's so different and edgy and people feel so naughty to come see it." He hadn't even graduated from college when he first auditioned for the part, played on Broadway by another Carnegie Mellon graduate, he says.
In fact, when he first auditioned, he'd never actually seen the show. He was in college and didn't have any money, he says, so he tried another approach. "I remember I waited in line for the lottery and I didn't win."
That same lottery is being offered in Houston with a pre-show lottery at the Hobby Center box office before each performance, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 apiece, cash only. Here's the rules:
Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance; each person will print their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each, cash only. Only one entry is allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability.
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Originally from Macon, Ga., Henson says he's been in musical theater since he was 4 and comes by it honestly; his mother was a drama major in college and his father is a musician and singer.
There's bad language throughout so don't bring the youngest of kids; in fact, if South Park offends you this might be one to miss. But realize that it won nine Tony Awards including one for Best Musical and also won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
And according to Henson, followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) not only come to see the play, but get the religious jokes that many in the audience miss. The Mormon Church even advertised in the musical's playbill with the legend: "You've seen the play, now read the book," Henson says.
September 3-15. 7:30 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. Call or visit thehobbycenter.org online.