The national touring company is staging “The Book of Mormon” now through Sunday, Sept. 20 at Popejoy Hall in the University of New Mexico’s Center for the Arts. Popejoy is located on campus near the intersection of Central and Cornell. The run is sold out, however lottery tickets are available for each performance. See story below for how to enter and win lottery tickets. For curtain times visit http://www.popejoypresents.com
By David Steinberg
“The Book of Mormon” is one hot Broadway musical and has been since it opened in 2011. It’s won nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Score.
It brilliantly manages to bring together music and dance on a bed of constant satire. All this amidst a preoccupation with throwaway F-bombs and other scatology. The Mormon Church comes in for much of the ribbing.
There are moments in the show that are glittering flashes of Busby Berkeley dance routines of 1930s Broadway. There are references to “The Lion King,” to the popular family attractions in Orlando, Fla.
The main story concerns two naive young men who are assigned as Mormon missionaries in Uganda, a country in East Africa. They are Elder Cunningham and Elder Price.
Price is a self-important missionary who is upset that he has been paired with the bumbling, emotionally immature Cunningham, and he is frustrated that he’s going to Uganda, and not to the all-American city of Orlando, his favorite place to visit. Price sings “I Believe,” a song that is purposely off the mark on the church’s credo.
The relationship between Price and Cunningham takes not-unexpected turns.
Price wants out. His narcisissm implodes when he targets the village warlord for conversion.
Meanwhile Cunningham’s codependency magically transforms into boyish maturity but he still lacks good sense.
With Jesus Christ as his model, he realizes he, too, should man up. Without his missionary partner, Cunningham pursues the baptism of an Ugandan village but only after telling a blatantly false story about the founders of the Mormon faith. He admits to never having read the Book of Mormon.
Nevertheless, Cunningham’s story enchants the beautiful, young Nabulungi and eventually wins over the other villagers to his skewed take on the faith.
The missionaries seem to ignore that this is a Third World village suffering from the real-life traumas of AIDS, female circumcision, poverty and a murderous, small-time general. (Does anyone remember Idi Amin?)
In the Wednesday, Sept. 16 performance of this ensemble show, A.J. Holmes was Elder Cunningham, Miles Jacoby was Elder Price and Alexandra Ncube was Nabulungi. These three were standouts among cast members who demonstrated a ton of talent.
The musical’s book, lyrics and music are the result of the collaboration of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of the animated satirical comedy “South Park”) and Robert Lopez (co-composer and co-lyricist of the musical “Avenue Q” and the animated film “Frozen.”
Footnote: Is the Mormon Church angry at the musical’s satire? Apparently not. It has taken out three pages of advertising in the Popejoy program. One page says, “You’ve seen the play… now read the book”
Now for the information about the lottery policy for the musical at its Popejoy performances.
Here’s how it works.
The production will conduct a pre-show lottery in the Popejoy lobby’s information kiosk. A limited number of tickets – probably 20 for each performance – will be available at $28 each. Cash only.
Entries for the lottery will be accepted at the kiosk starting 2 1/2 hours before each performance. Each person entering must print their name and the number of tickets – either one or two – on a card Popejoy will provide.
Two hours before curtain the winning names will be drawn at random. Only one entry will be allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to each drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and must show valid ID to buy the lottery tickets. The limit is one entry per person and no more than two tickets per winner.
Tickets are subject to availability.