“The Book of Mormon” is not suitable for children or the faint of heart. The off-color, potentially offensive musical uses the Mormon religion as its launching pad for some of the most outrageous skewering in the history of show business.
Imagine a musical comedy with story lines involving AIDS, unmentionable activities with frogs and a host of unprintable jokes. Toss in a dream sequence with Satan, Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnnie Cochran and Genghis Khan, and a subplot about female genital mutilation. Give it big, glossy, slick production values, brilliant comic writing and an ensemble that delivers like it’s the most important performance of all time and somehow, you end up with a feel good musical about faith and hope.
It defies logic, but it’s exactly what’s happening at the Colonial Theatre, where the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone is playing to packed houses. Though this is the third visit by “Mormon,” it feels, fresher, funnier and better than it’s ever been.
The story begins when two young missionaries, the handsome, high-achieving Elder Price (David Larsen) and the significantly less accomplished Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand) travel to an impoverished village in Uganda to offer hope through the teachings of The Book of Mormon. It’s a musical comedy, so nothing goes as planned, naturally. The leading lady Nabulungi (Candace Quarrels) falls for the wrong man and the dastardly General (unprintable name) is taken down not by the leading man, but the threat of lesbians.
Strand leads this production with his outstanding performance as Elder Cunningham, delivering powerful vocals and dance moves that belie his non-dancer physique. Larsen is also solid as Elder Price and Quarrels delivers depth, warmth and an eyes-wide-open innocence that will steal your heart in her turn as Nabulungi.
Rumor has it the storied Colonial will be shutting its doors for the last time when this “Mormon” run ends. The grand dame of Boston theaters could not go out on a higher note.
If you go
“The Book of Mormon”
Through Oct. 11
Colonial Theatre, 106 Boylston St., Boston
$30 - $185