THE BOOK OF MORMON rings in a new season for the FSCJ Artist Series

We’ve all had one come to our door at some point – the polite, prim and proper young person who rings the doorbell and asks for a moment of your time to tell you about being Mormon.  But leave it to Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone to take that moment in your life and transform it into one of the most hilarious opening numbers I’ve ever witnessed!

THE BOOK OF MORMON, while heavily referencing the Mormon religion, is not in-your-face religion.  If anything, it pokes a lot of fun at the practice of sending naive individuals into the world to spread their word.  The show is extremely high-energy, and the crowd was continuously either laughing, groaning, or both at the humor.

A fairly standard number of shows are written with the leading man being the more straight-arrow, less humorous character, while the supporting actor is the comic relief.  The show starts with Elder Price (Sam McLellan) as the lead, anticipating that he will carry the show.  Why not?  In his own words, speaking to his sidekick, Elder Cunningham (Sam Nackman), it’s up to “You and Me (But Mostly Me)”.

In a delightfully unexpected twist, the sidekick starts stealing the show.  Nackman’s sense of comedic timing is so wondrous that you can’t help but laugh with and at him throughout.  It does not in any way take away from McLellan, as he holds his own across from the comedic antics.

They make a superb team, even if Price would rather be in Orlando instead of having been sent with Cunningham to Uganda.  There, they meet up with a local tribe as well as the other missionaries who eagerly await their arrival.  It winds up being a local girl from the tribe, Nabulungi (sweetly portrayed by Keke Nesbitt) and the relationship she develops with Cunningham who helps lead the rest of the tribe towards conversion.

Even though McLellan and Nackman are the principals in the show, this is very much a team effort.  The vocals are strong with tight harmonies.  The choreography was on the simpler side, but try doing over two hours of aerobics while singing!  The set and costume changes were smooth, quick and could be missed if you blinked.

I will not spoil the antics on behalf of Cunningham that contribute to the baptisms within the tribe.  However, there are portions of the show that could be taken as offensive for language or religious beliefs.  If you take it for the fun in which it’s meant, the show is a fun, upbeat evening.

THE BOOK OF MORMON opens the FSCJ Artist Series for their 2023-24 season with a very limited run.  It is downtown December 1-3, 2023, at the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts, so catch it this weekend if you can.  Ticket prices vary based on show and seating.  For tickets, go to fscjartistseries.org or call (904) 632-5000.

by Cessy Newmon

About Cessy Newmon