High School Critics Tell about “The Book of Mormon”

High School critics

Lindsay Christians, the Capital Times writer, shares her experience of “Mormon” musical’s discussion with high school-age critics.

When it comes to high-school critics’ reviews, they best thing about it is that they see the old well-known things in differently. It brings kind of new awareness of the show even while the connoisseurs’ attitude is already established.

“The Book of Mormon” attracts a large audience and is quite reluctant to sell the tickets to the press members. That is the main reason why Overture Center allowed Lindsay Christians engaging some high school authors in reviewing current Broadway shows. She has already written few articles dedicated to “Book of Mormon”, so a new blood is exactly what is able to make things more interesting.

As the result, two theater critics were allowed to pass on this performance. Their names are Kimberly Laberge and Lauren Gennerman and they study at Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance. Lindsay feels lucky to publish passages from their reviews and present the differences of opinion. However, both of students admired the musical’s choreography and found it amazing.

Kimberly Laberge: “The star of the show is the choreographer”

“The Book of Mormon” is a bright example of religious satirical performance about African tribe and the Mormon missionaries (Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, played by Kevin Clay and Conner Pierson) who vainly try to spread the word of the Lord on the open spaces of Uganda.

The musical was put on by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of “South Park” and is intended for almost the same kind of visitors. Even though Kimberly admits that this piece is not for her Grandma, the editor believes the older generation will also laugh to their heart’s content.

The leading roles are well-played, actors completely handled the task. Pierson and Clay constitute together a quite compelling duo. The first one definitely stands out in a crowd due to his impressive vocals and character. Even though his voice more resembles a shout than singing, his performance is delight-making, grabs the audience’s attention and fascinates by its uniqueness. However, his role doesn’t fully meet the personality initially created by Josh Cad.

The Nabulungi character was given to Leanne Robinson, whose act is far from perfect. She seems to be unable to keep the Ugandan accent on the same level till the end of a play and often falls out of her image. In many cases, her role looks unconvincing.

By the way, we can’t blame the creators for this choice, because Robinson has performed in “Joseph Smith American Moses” and “Hasa Diga Eebowai” very well. In these musicals, she had obtained the similar role.

Still, this show would not succeed without talented Casey Nicholaw, the “Mormon’s” choreographer. Every part of the play is replete with dances charged emitting wild energy. Those numbers bring the bright atmosphere of each cultural environment and demonstrate a wide range of dancing styles. In conjunction, they form a telling example of a solid setting.
Nicholaw turns the interaction between two different nations into movement: white guys are bouncing around under African tunes while Ugandan tribe try learning something new and adjusting to the Western beats. All these things look rather amusingly for the viewer and encourage breaking into laughter time and again.

“The Book of Mormon” performance is held in Madison till May 14th. There is another variant of the show starring Ryan Bondy and David Aron Damane as Elder Price and cruel African general respectively.

Lauren Gennerman: “Mormon” is “hilariously inappropriate” but inconsistent

Overture Center and Madison Theater invite you to enjoy the nine-time Tony award-winning musical “The Book of Mormon” which will be shown here through May 14th.
Kevin Clay delivered the crucial features of his character such as overbearing pride and ego to the audience and looked more like Mormon Captain America. His tenor voice underlined the merit of show’s masterpieces like “You and Me (But Mostly Me)” and “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.”.

Nabulungi by Leanne Robinson was great: her message to the viewer seemed clear. The combination of brilliant facial expressions and stunning vocals brought the story to life, even though the actress lacks comedic timing and feels a bit awkward with her body language. That being said her rich range of voice makes up for the shortcomings.

“The Book of Mormon” is notorious for its “hilarious nonconformity” but sometimes it is too much. The play is built not coherently enough because during the show we may observe such flaws as an extremely loud orchestra, microphone’s cuts and illogicality in general. All these things interfere with the proper perception: the best lines are irretrievably lost and this introduces a bit of bewilderment. For instance, the back left corner of the stage was not fully disclosed.

The redemptive power of Wednesday’s show was choreography. Various dancing styles with references to diverse cultural elements turn it into an original sight. It is important to remember that satirical component is a basis of this play, so the majority of numbers are just a mockery of traditional dance figures.

Casey Nicholaw has obtained a reach experience in a production of “Bye Bye Birdie” and “South Pacific”. And that is the main reason why he actually fully coped with both choreographer’s and co-director’s functions. What’s happening is a pleasure to eyes: every dancer’s movement is honed through practice and is about to merge with the musical accompaniment.

Worth noting, Gennerman doesn’t recommend this show to highly religious or too sensitive and kind people. As for fans of the genre, “Mormon” is a great show to get acquainted with, just buy tickets to the Book of Mormon and see it yourself.

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