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"The Book of Mormon" (review)

Short Description of "The Book of Mormon" (review)

“The Book of Mormon”

At Proctors thru 11/25

State Street, Schenectady


“The Book of Mormon”, a heart pounding and hilarious musical the New York Times called, “Best Musical of the Century”, has swept into Proctors again, for the second time in as many years, to a second near sell out string of performances, with standing ovations to match.  We agree with the New York Times: There is no political agenda, no bias, no fake reviews. “Mormon” is one of the best musicals we have ever seen.  The scenery, dancing (including tap), acting, voices, musical sets, and choreography are second to none.  A funny story line gets told to us through the work of some of the best performers anywhere. Simply, there is no weak link in the presentation. All performers are spectacular, as they sing, dance, tap and sway their way through the jungles of Africa, to tell their story of hardship and ambivalence to our western God.

You will laugh from the second the stage curtains open, to the instant the stage curtains close, and then you’ll find yourself laughing the next day, too.  “Mormon”, by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park (yes, that kind of humor), won nine Emmy awards, each one absolutely deserved. This play is not without controversy, however, and I will get to that in a second. In the meantime, if you want tickets, Proctors has instituted a “lottery” system because of the few seats left.

On September 22, 1823, a farmer by the name of John Smith, from upstate New York, claimed an angel told him where to dig a hole to uncover gold plates , complete with new biblical text. The dig came with the instruction to “never….ever” share the plates or show them to anyone. No one except Smith ever saw the plates. Of course, no plates have ever been discovered (although an empty box he claimed he put them in was), and despite the lack of evidence, Mormonism, known as the Latter Day Saints movement,  took off and became a fast growing religion. Controversy ensued. “The Book of Mormon” casts more than a single cloud on John Smith’s story, and then weaves the storyline into attempts at two elders to spread the Word to the jungles of despair. Dressed in freshly pressed black pants, crisply starched shirts and ties, and freshly cut howdy-doody haircuts, our peace mongers attempt to spread the Book of Mormon to one of the most desperate places on earth: The jungles of Uganda, where they encounter drug lords, hiv, the ghastly practice of female circumcision, and a host of social issues far removed from the Elders favorite place of Orlando.

Without plot giveaway, this play is funny. From start to finish, it is hilarious, in an unexpecting sort of way, as it sings, taps, and jokes its way past drug lords and jungle chaos.

"Mormon" has been criticized by many as being ‘’blasphemous”.  I disagree. While clearly poking fun at the foundation of Mormonism, the western God our elders are trying to introduce to our villagers is not the God they know. If you get offended by this play—again, no plot specifics—ask yourself who the villagers thought God was, and why they just couldn’t bring themselves to believe. If you see this play through the eyes of desperate villagers, so far removed from our Elders in their white shirts and black ties, you will see it is only poking fun at us.

“Mormon” does everything well. The cast is simply five star, the story line incredible, and a score of live music second to none. We agree: This is the musical of the century, and makes for one wicked fun night out.

    --Richard DiMaggio, didyouweekend.com

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Address: State St, Schenectady, NY, USA

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