Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in style starting 2020 off with the Tony award-winning, Book of Mormon!
Book of Mormon has won 9 Tony awards including Best Musical and a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. It is the 14th longest running show on Broadway and getting tickets is still tough since it’s opening in 2011!
Book of Mormon also has a special Sarasota connection! Our own hometown idol, Syesha Mercado, who was the 3rd finalist in Season 7 of American Idol, played the role of “Nabulungi” making her Broadway debut in 2014. She was also in the Chicago production of the show.
This irreverent, hilarious show is written by those wild and crazy guys, Trey Parker and Matt Stone who bring us the Comedy Central animated show, South Park. So it is not surprising that the humor is off-the-wall, sprinkled with current pop culture references and sometimes heartwarming. The two lead characters, young Mormons, Elder Price & Elder Cunningham, are played by Liam Tobin and Jordan Matthew Brown, respectively. Both actors coming from the Broadway company are superb in their roles! They are sent to Africa to minister to the natives and in turn learn some lessons of their own. The role of Nabulungi is being played by Alyah Chanelle Scott who is making her national tour debut. The trio is the heart of the story but the ensemble cast adds much dimension and humor to the mini-storylines which include such serious subjects as AIDS, female genital mutilation and sexual abuse.
Robert Lopez, songwriter of musicals, is the youngest EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner you may not have heard of, but you have heard his music! Besides being a co-creator for Book of Mormon, he has also written songs for Broadway’s Avenue Q and Disney’s Frozen movies among others. From the opening of “Hello”, you know you are in for some special musical numbers. Some of the tunes are dream sequences which include the amazing “Hell’ dream that has a cast of Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnny Cochran and Starbucks cups that will make you belly laugh about the reality of it. “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” is a great jab at the ego performed with humor by Telsey. The ensemble numbers are particularly fun and the cast has wonderful harmony.
Book of Mormon is not a family production for the children. These are adult issues and there are warnings about the graphic language. That being said, if you enjoy musical comedy, you will no doubt love it! There are six more opportunities to see Book of Mormon through Sunday with matinees on Saturday and Sunday! Tickets and information at www.vanwezel.org.
Sarasota is lucky to have these incredible Broadway shows landing right at our front door! Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has some great productions coming in the near future including Waitress, which just closed last week on Broadway after its successful 4-year run, so you can only see it on tour! Les Miserables, The Color Purple and more are coming! If you love live theater, save yourself a trip to NYC and see the show right at home! Support the Arts!
Photos courtesy of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Book of Mormon