Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” Returned to Ohio For Much-Needed Laughter

Published on August 28, 2019

Beginning today, Daytonians now have another avenue to share and exchange laughs after a rough six months, as the Victoria Theatre Association has brought back Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” to town.

On August 25, 2019, thousands turned out to the “Gem City Shine” block party hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle that honored victims of The Oregon District mass-shooting in Ohio. With stars such as Stevie Wonder, Chance the Rapper, Talib Kweli, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and other stars headlining the event, spirits were raised as well as money for the victims and survivors of the shooting.

For the city of Dayton, “The Book of Mormon” was uniquely suited for audiences looking for some sophisticated laughs, making its Dayton debut from August 28-September 1.

The sweet/raunchy performance, by South Park’s Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, debuted on Broadway in 2011, telling the story of two Latter-day Saints who are sent to Uganda and are shocked by what they discover in Ugandan culture and religious education (or lack-there-of).

Book of Mormon | Source: Diane Schoeffler-Warren, Victoria Theatre Association

The musical follows Elder Price, a picture-perfect missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Price is sure that the Heavenly Father will reward his strict devotion with a mission to his favorite place in the world—Orlando, Florida. His time at the Missionary Training Center, however, ends with two devastating blows—he is spontaneously sent to Uganda to teach these principles and his missionary companion, Elder Cunningham, a “Star-Wars”-obsessed misfit who hides his social awkwardness with increasingly imaginative lies.

When the Elders arrive in Uganda, they are shocked to learn that the other missionaries have not baptized a single person. Cunningham is immediately drawn to a local woman names Nabulungi, which creates a rift between Cunningham, Price, and the faith to which they have so religiously (all-pun intended) devoted themselves to.

The performance has a near endless stream of jokes, so be prepared to laugh endlessly at the filthy, sublime, provocative, juvenile behaviors portrayed in Trey Parker’s fan-favorite piece of work. In all the best ways, “The Book of Mormon” displays deeply traditional music that emphasizes everyone’s need to remember to laugh once in awhile and that, regardless of our religious beliefs, we must remember to stop and have a laugh.

According to the Daily Utah Chronicle, some of the show’s segments touch on some iffy topics that may not be as equipped for a post-Trump world as one may imagine.

The treatment of race in “The Book of Mormon” sometimes borders on queasy, especially when watching with an almost entirely white audience. Parker, Stone and Lopez leave no sacred cow un-slaughtered, and the darkest jokes, which cover everything from AIDS to genital mutilation, can occasionally curdle into mean-spiritedness. Maybe the musical is less equipped for a post-Trump world, where any screed against political correctness feels more petulant than transgressive.”

Again, if you’re looking for a respectable form of admiration and Mormon education, you’ve come to the wrong show, but there are most definitely some lessons to be learned from Parker’s work.

With over nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, and many other awards, “The Book of Mormon” returns to Dayton’s Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center August 28 through September 1 as part of the Projects Unlimited Star Attractions, presented by Victoria Theatre Association.

The Book of Mormon Embraces Dayton Post-Oregon District Tragedy

During The Book of Mormon’s debut with the Victoria Theatre Association, the cast and crew joined in, raising nearly $24,000 to support The Dayton Foundation’s Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund.

We, at Victoria Theatre Association, are amazed and humbled,” said Ty Sutton, President & CEO, Victoria Theatre Association.

“Thanks to the cast and crew of THE BOOK OF MORMON for embracing Dayton and joining the effort. The sheer generosity of our community never ceases to amaze us. On behalf of VTA staff and Board of Trustees, thank you for giving from the heart. The grand total of the contributions is $23,934.43.”

A check will be presented to The Dayton Foundation at a later date.

Grit Daily was present at the show on Thursday August 29.

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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