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THESE MISSIONARY MORMONS
Did not need to ring door bells in S.J.

By Iride Aparicio

The new Elders  with BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE (center) as Elder Price
The new Elders  with BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE (center) as Elder Price (Photo Joan Marcus)

SAN JOSE, CA.— Mormon missionaries help spread their religion by ringing door bells and giving away free copies of the book of Mormon, (The Mormon’s Bible)  to the people, but these particular group of  “elders” did not need to go around Silicon Valley ringing door bells to get converts. The people came to see them in hordes. The moment theatre goes heard that  “The Book of Mormon” was going to be shown at San José Center for the Performing Arts, from June 30th to July 12th,  they  bought their tickets, and on Opening Night there were so many patrons in the audience, that the Center had to add two additional rows of seats in the front, to accommodate them. After all, the show was the National Tour, presented as part of the Broadway San Jose Season 2014-2015, a Nederlander Presentation,

In spite of being the Winner of nine Tony Awards® including Best Musical, the book of “The Book of Mormon” the musical, written  by  TREY PARKER, MATT STONE and ROBERT LOPEZ, best known as the writers of the animated television comedy South Park,  according to many critics, has pluses  and minuses. Its biggest minus being that its plot is considered blasphemous by many people, because when it satirizes the Mormons and makes “fun” of its elders, and  founders: the prophet JOSEPH SMITH, and BRIHAM YOUNG it disrespect their religion. Any theatre goer who has seen the show, and was able to understand the lyrics of  “Joseph Smith, American Moses” has a choice to find them irreverent and in poor taste, or simply laugh with them.  (Sadly, on opening night many people could not even understand the lyrics or even  hear them in the balcony, because there  was a technical problems with the sound system at the Center of the Performing Arts on that night.)

Another song considered irreverent  in the show, is “ Hasa Diga Eebowai” presented simply as "a saying of the Uganda’s natives” who say it raising  their middle finger to the sky when facing war, poverty, famine of Aids, which 80 percent of them have. The saying is described in the dialogue, as "a curse the rotten name.”  but Eebowai is their God. When some of us think about it, the song may erases the laughter from our mouths.

HOLMES as Elder Cunningham converting the Ugandans 

 A.J. HOLMES as Elder Cunningham converting the Ugandans (Photo Joan Marcus)

On the Plus side of the book of “The Book of Mormon,” is its dramatic structure, which is perfect.  Every one of its principal characters is well-rounded, and the audience knows exactly what each wants. And if  elder Price BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE, with all his pride does not exactly get to be a missionary in Orlando, Florida, or manages to baptize all the natives in Uganda, Africa, the twist at the end of he story makes this musical funny.

“The Book of Mormon”  (the musical) is the story of two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price (HARRIGAN TIGHE) and Elder Cunningham (A. J. HOLMES) that after going around Utah,  ringing door bells and offering the Book of Mormon, “which can change your life,” to the people, are sent to Uganda, Africa, to convert its natives.  While Elder Price feels frustrated because he wanted to be sent to Orlando, because he is convinced that he is “Special” and has an “Special mission” in this earth, his partner, Elder Cunningham, (HOLMES) accepts his assignment excited. His problem, however, is that when he is unable to convert the natives, he, who is a pathological liar, begins changing the scriptures written in the Book of Mormon for his own stories, creating havoc when the Mission's President arrives in Uganda.

The Tour cast who represented the show in San José, was wonderful. As Elder Price (HARRIGAN TIGHE,) got into his character immediately, acting  pompous, from the time he introduces himself, as Elder Price, singing “Hello,”  to the time he sings “You and Me” making Cunningham his partner inferior to him. No wonder he has to pay a visit to Mormon’s Hell! at the end. Excellent also in  his characterization as Elder Cunningham, HOLMES, gave us a very nervous, insecure, Elder Cunningham, but an absolutely charming pathological liar. Another excellent performance that night was the one of ALEXANDRA NCUBE as Nabulungi (a young girl in Uganda threatened by Mafala Hatimbi (STANLEY WAYNE MATHIS) to be castrated.  

A.J. HOLMES as Elder Price

Directed by CASEY NICHOLAW and TREY PARKER, with beautiful sets (SCOTT PASK) and costumes (ANN ROTH) the Book of Mormon, kept the audience laughing with its off-color jokes, and some times irreverent dialogue. And the audience loved the ending with its “unique” twist.

On its opening night, the show received an standing ovation.

(Left  BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE as Elder Price)

Photo: Johan Persso

Here we should add that the performances of The Book of Mormon  broke the House Records for the week ending in July 5th in San Jose, and that the National Tour (visiting us)  have broken 81  House Records in 44 venues across the county.

 

 

“The Book of Mormon” will continue playing at the S.J. Center for the Performing Arts until July 12.  For ticket call 1-800 982-2787 or go online at www.broadwaysanjose.com.