The Book of Mormon at the Orpheum Theatre

Cody Jamison Strand

Photo by: Joan Marcus

In 2011, The Book of Mormon took Broadway by storm with what could easily be described as one of the most controversial musicals at the time. Which is no surprise since the show is written by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park. Now, 5 years later the show is still topping the weekly Broadway grosses list and continues to tour the country to sold out shows.

The Book of Mormon follows two Mormon missionaries as they attempt to share their scriptures with the inhabitants of a remote Ugandan village. The earnest young men are challenged by the disinterest of the locals, who are pre-occupied by more pressing troubles including AIDS, famine, and oppression at the hands of a warlord. With book, lyrics and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone this religious satire musical is not for the easily offended.

This is the third time The Book of Mormon has made a stop in Minneapolis and I’ve been fortunate enough to see the show five times between the Broadway and touring productions.  Besides the original Broadway cast I saw in 2011, the cast currently performing at the Orpheum is the best I’ve seen to date. Cody Jamison Strand steals the show as Elder Cunningham. His stage presence, comedic timing and charm fill the entire Orpheum Theatre. From the moment he enters from stage right during “Hello” until the moment the lights blackout at the finale, he holds the audience in the palm of his hands and in stitches. As Elder Price Ryan Bondy, portrays the quintessential Mormon young man stereotype…squeaky clean, eager to please and wound a little too tight.

The show will keep you laughing from the first curtain up all the way to the final bows. For those who really know their theatre stuff there are some great references to The Lion King, Wicked, 42nd Street and other Broadway shows. Some references are a little more obscure than others, but if you’re paying attention you might just see or hear them.

The Book of Mormon is currently playing in Minneapolis at the Orpheum Theatre through May 29. For more information on the show, or to purchase tickets visit Hennepin Theatre Trust’s website.

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