Pros: Utterly hilarious, deeply offensive, great songs and great dancing; nearly everything I was hoping it would be!
Cons: I didn’t get that intangible feeling that you get when you see a truly incredible, life-changing show.
I can never remember a show opening in the West End with such a fanfare. Nine Tony Awards, a series of broken box office records, and nothing else in the theatre world headlines for the last month or so. Even I was quite excited when, four months after I had booked my tickets, my turn had come to see what all the fuss was about.
A brilliant show from start to finish.
My verdict (which I’m sure has been as highly anticipated as the show itself!) is as follows: The Book of Mormon is hilarious, clever, camp, wonderfully rude, and it has noticeably good choreography…. But it isn’t as ground-breakingly brilliant as I was hoping it would be. Like many others, I genuinely believe that it has been over-hyped. I’m not trying to be contrarian, and I’m not saying that it isn’t fantastically good, because it certainly is! What I am saying however, is that I thought I was going to walk out of the theatre wanting to talk about nothing else, but by the time we’d reached the bus stop on Shaftesbury Avenue, my group’s conversation about it was over. We all agreed it was excellent, but nobody was so enthused that they wanted to talk about it all the way home.
The above paragraph is the extent of my criticism however, because the show really is a riot from start to finish! There are some tremendous songs – without wanting to ruin surprises, my favourite was certainly The Book of Mormon’s Ugandan answer to Hakuna Matata. At one point I was laughing so much during this song that I actually started to feel light-headed and panicky. It’s not just one good song though, they’re all brilliant really. Some of them are fantastically offensive – personally I loved it, and anybody who has seen South Park will love it, but it probably isn’t for youngsters or those who flinch when they hear the ‘c-word’!
The first of two big (and good!) surprises for me was how camp it is. I had pictured more of an Avenue Q style show, but this is a no-holds-barred musical, complete with mirror-balls, sparkly costumes, group choreographed dancing and generally camp acting. It all adds to the comedy in my opinion, but I’m not sure how avid musical haters would respond to it! The second surprise was the choreography is noticeably excellent, and that really did increase the laughs significantly – I’ve learnt a number of epic moves for my next evening of drunken dancing. To be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting The Book of Mormon to be quite so, well… musical-y!
I don’t want to say much more – if you don’t have tickets already then it’s a terrific show, it’s hilarious, the performances are brilliant (especially Alexia Khadime, who was the stand-out singer of the evening by a country mile), and in general it is a triumph. And to those who are trying to be deliberately negative, stop it! You annoy me more than those who have over-hyped it, because it is great! Memorably superb though? I’m less convinced about that.