The blockbuster musical, whose jokes are getting a tad shopworn, is back in Seattle, at the Paramount Theatre through Jan. 10.
“The Book of Mormon” national tour is back in Seattle, and whether it’s your first time saying “Hello” or your third, Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez’s brisk, irreverent musical is likely to charm.
Greeted with hyperbole upon its 2011 Broadway debut, the show might benefit now from slightly dimmed fervor (sellouts are still the norm, though). While frequently uproarious, Parker and Stone’s “Book” has a tendency to overplay some jokes — just ask the doctor with a maggot problem — and its satire of religious naiveté and white savior complexes is ultimately pretty gutless. Parker and Stone’s best musical, the 1999 film “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,” has no such issue.
On this iteration of the tour, “The Book of Mormon” is looking polished as ever, with Billy Harrigan Tighe and A.J. Holmes moving from the West End production to headline the cast as Elders Price and Cunningham, a pair of missionaries sent to Uganda for their two-year stint.
‘The Book of Mormon’
By Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez. Through Jan. 10, Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $58.75-$191.75 (877-784-4849 or stgpresents.org).
Price is an ideal evangelist, clean-cut and confident in his ability to change the world, even if he’d rather be doing it in a place like Orlando. Cunningham is not. A pathological liar with a dearth of social skills, he’s more excited at the opportunity to befriend his reluctant mission companion than to save some souls.
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Tighe’s performance feels punched out from a well-worn mold — the white-bread, plastic-smile narcissist — apt, given the show’s observations on conformity. Holmes, on the other hand, veers away from the clumsy schlub template established by role originator Josh Gad.
Playing a Cunningham that’s equal parts manic and mischievous, his performance brings a touch of self-awareness to the awkwardness, and it’s a bracing addition to a production that’s otherwise content to paint by numbers.
Once in Uganda, the pair discovers their message isn’t of much interest to a people dealing with cruel warlords, genital mutilation and AIDS. Parker and Stone deftly undercut racist tropes about the supposed simplicity of the natives, but they also don’t bother giving any of them any dimension as a character.
They come the closest with Nabulungi (Alexandra Ncube), an optimistic young woman who sees promise in the Latter-Day Saints message. Her gorgeously sung renditions of “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” and “Baptize Me” make one wish her voice was being unleashed on something other than fake ballads.
Other cast highlights include Corey Jones’ steely-eyed general and Brian Beach’s chipper elder, whose success at tamping down his homosexuality varies from moment to moment.
The success of “The Book of Mormon” is similarly variable, veering from provocation to sticky sentiment, but it’ll be no miracle if it continues to be a theatrical juggernaut for years to come.