By Wayne Harada
------------------------------------------------Above, "Book of Mormon" cast from 1st National touring company.
Above left, Bill Harrigan Tighe as Elder Price.
Bel0w, A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham.
Photos courtesy "The Book of Mormon."
The Book of Mormon,” winner of nine Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction, will open a limited three-week run April 13 to May 1 2016 at Blaisdell Concert Hall. Expect a flurry of F-bomb, but a flock of worshippers who have been waiting for this revelatory and relevant lampoon of religion.
The playdates were announced today (Oct. 6) at a press conference where two lead actors from “Mormon’s” 1st National Touring Company — Billy Harrigan Tighe as Elder Price and A.J. Holmes as Elder Cunningham — appeared and spoke in an enlightening and entertaining chit-chat moderated by Hawaii-based Tony nominee Loretta Ables Sayre (Bloody Mary, in “South Pacific”). Visual clips from this groundbreaking giant were shown, punctuating what kind of a blockbuster this is — and it’s still running on Broadway.
Jack Lucas, president of the presenting company, WestCoast Entertainment, announced the dates, and informed the audience of 150 or so attendees that tickets for groups of 10 or more already are on sale at 593-9468 or in person at the Hawaii Opera Theatre box office near the Blaisdell, at 848 S. Beretania St. Suite 303. WestCoast’s last presentation here was “The Lion King.” “Mormon” is part of WestCoast’s Best of Broadway Honolulu series.
The profane show, with book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, is directed by Casey Nicholaw (who also choreographed) and Parker. The creative team is linked to hip and hot entertainment icons: Parker and Stone are Emmy-winner creators of the “South Park” animated series, and Lopez is the Tony-winning co-author of the musical comedy with puppets, “Avenue Q.” Those shows, and this one, push the envelope on tradition.
“We’re so thankful to be back in Hawaii to present ‘The Book of Mormon,’” said Lucas of the show currently in production in Las Vegas. “It takes a village to bring it here.”
He said it would require nine 53-foot semis to ship the sets, props and costumes from Costa Mesa to Honolulu. Which sounds like the cast gets a vacation a week before flying here, the last stop on the touring calendar.
Tighe and Holmes entered “Mormon” last July as leads in London’s West End presentation and expressed delight and excitement to be part of this theatrical phenom, which lampoons Mormons but celebrates a common ground, of living in a paradise, with explosive comedy and thought-provoking insights, staged with passion and professionalism.
The storyline involves Tighe and Holmes sent to Uganda to spread the gospel of the Book of Mormon.
Tighe, who physically resembles the original lean and clean-cut Elder Price played by Andrew Ranells, said “Mormon” has been “a different show, structurally and musically … (it) moves so fast with technical challenges,” he said.
Holmes, as Elder Cunningham originally portrayed by a heftier and bushy-haired Josh Gads, said audiences initially were confused by his more slender, shorter and normally coiffed hair than Gad’s, so playing the positive but sociologically bad boy was an initial bump in the road. “I’m just strongly handsome,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience. “He succeeds in Africa because he listens to people.”
Since the pair met each other only after auditioning for the production, they had to build camaraderie and collaboration both off and on stage. Seems like mission accomplished; the pair were supportive of each other and sharing quotes in a ping-pong-like back-and-forth volley, with the astute and attuned Ables Sayre masterfully managing the rhythm.
The bottom line, said Tighes, about themselves as actors and characters in the show: “Take care of each other … we can all work together for this paradise."
The show boasts some clichés about book-toting Mormons who travel in twos and wear white shirts with neckties and black trousers. It’s from this notion, accompanied by the expected ding-dong doorbell rings, that the show builds a trove of outrageous songs (some naughty, some nice) and rhapsodic comedy into a baptismal farce for first-time viewers and repeat fans.
I saw this in New York and laughed till I cried. So a national tour — including Hawaii — was a no-brainer. So I can’t wait to see it again, to experience things I might have missed.
‘THE BOOK OF MORMON’
A musical by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
When: April 13 to May 1, 2016
Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
Curtain time: 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, additional show at 2 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: On sale now only for groups of 10 or more; call 593-9468 or in person at the Hawaii Opera Theatre box office, 848 S. Beretania St., Suite 303
Prices: Preview performance, 7:30 pm. April 13: $150.50 premium, orchestra CC-G center section; $75.25 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M; $61.75 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-Q; $42.50, balcony R-S; Tuesday-Thursday evenings and Sunday evenings,
$155.50 premium orchestra CC-G center, $77.50 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M, $64 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-Q; $45.50 balcony R-S; Friday and Saturday evenings, $173.50 premium orchestra CC-G center, $95.50 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M, $80.50 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-Q, $50.50 balcony R-S;
Saturday and Sunday matinees, $173.50 premium orchestra CC-G center, $86.50 orchestra CC-Z and balcony A-M, $73 orchestra V-Z and balcony N-G, $50.50 balcony R-S; note: prices may increase for performances April 26 to May 1