“The Book of Mormon” comes to Detroit
By Dylan Randolph, Editor in Chief
Year round Metro Detroiters are given the opportunity to witness some of Broadway’s greatest musicals when they come into town and inspire audiences. Shows such as “Wizard of Oz,” “Wicked,” “The Lion King” and “Phantom of the Opera” often visit Michigan to entertain the crowds by the hundreds, even thousands. This year, Broadway’s own “The Book of Mormon” came from Nov. 1 to Nov. 13 to spread the word of the All-American prophet Joseph Smith.
Back in March 2011, “The Book of Mormon” debuted on Broadway in New York City. The musical, created by the men behind popular animated show “South Park,” took the theatre community by storm as it started to sell out with every show that aired. The show was such a success that in just three months after it’s debut, it won the Tony for “Best Musical.” Known for it’s witty yet explicit language, whimsical portrayal of the Mormon religion and racy commentary, the show was bound for success once the curtain went up. Ever since the show aired audiences have raved about the musical, so much so that the company decided to tour across the nation.
The opening of the show begins by the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints practicing their sell pitches on fellow members of their community in a song called “Hello.” As the song commences the audience is introduced to Elder Price played by Gabe Gibbs, who tells the fellow Elders that he has prayed to God that he will be sent to his favorite city in the world, Orlando, Florida. However, in the next song called “Two by two” Elder Price was placed with Elder Cunningham played by Cody Jamison Strand, and sent to Uganda. Africa. Accompanied by his not so knowledgeable Elder, Price flew to Africa with hopes to convert members of a village to Mormons. However, once he arrives, his faith is shaken as he realizes there may not be a God. Meanwhile, Elder Cunningham tries to spread the word of Joseph Smith in his own kind of way.
The show performed at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit was phenomenal; the talent among the cast was outstanding. Each of the characters had their own unique sound and personality which was easily seen from anywhere in the theatre. One of the most impressive parts about the cast as a whole was the vocal skill that each member had. While characters like Elder Price, Elder McKinley played by Daxton Bloomquist and Nabulungi played by Candace Quarrels could belt incredible notes during their solos, when the cast harmonized, chills were sent down the audience’s spines.
Another aspect that made the show so fantastic was the humor that each character brought out during the performance. Whether it was Cunningham making nerdy references throughout the show or him being extremely nervous and awkward all the time, the audience was often brought to tears from laughter.
The set and costumes that were shown throughout the performance were Broadway quality in their own way. While each of the Elders wore pretty much the same costume throughout the whole show, consisting a white button up shirt, black slacks and tie and black dress shoes, the actors who were a part of the African village wore what many people would think Africans wear today. The Africans wore rugged, dirty, torn up clothes as well as modern world clothing that were trashed. The set, which was mainly set in the African village, had many realistic elements to it. The set was filled with black, brown, yellow and gray paint to show that the village was dirty. Not only that but the huts, bridges, and railings were all made up of rigid materials such as wood, straw and street signs. To seal the deal on the Third World feel of the set, there was a set piece designed to look like a rotting animal in the middle of the village.
“The Book of Mormon” sold out almost every show in Detroit at the start of the month, and those who were fortunate enough to attend the show were filled with laughs. Although “The Book of Mormon” has left Detroit, individuals can still see other Broadway shows as they make their way to Michigan.
For more information on Broadway shows that are scheduled to come to Detroit, visit BroadwayinDetroit.com