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Review: Book of Mormon opens new season in Richmond

Broadway in Richmond opened its new season in a beautifully renovated Altria Theater this week. The huge Broadway smash musical, "The Book of Mormon" is playing through this weekend at the theater (formerly the Landmark) which has just had a huge facelift.

The theater has a great new marquee, expanded lobby and concession area, and overall a much needed pick-me-up. The new digs better complement the shows that Broadway in Richmond brings, and it was gratifying to see all that went into upgrading the new space. Five Stars.

The musical, that tells the story of a pair of Mormon missionaries sent to Africa to proselytize about the faith, is bold and irreverent. I need only say that the show was written by the creators of South Park. So nothing is sacred, and nothing is off limits. Since it opened in 2011, it has set ticket sales records. It won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.

The show is extraordinarily well-done, exceedingly funny, and the musical score is catchy, peppy and memorable.

I saw this show at the Kennedy Center a couple summers ago. From my vantage point high atop the second balcony, I could not get all the humor of the production. But this time, with great seats in the expansive Altria Theater, I was able to enjoy each moment.

This touring cast is spectacular. Elder Price, the self-absorbed missionary was played (at this performance) by Ryan Bondy. He has a fantastic voice and great look for this role. His counterpart is Cody Jamison Strand, who plays the misfit missionary Elder Cunningham. Strand plays Cunningham with such endearing abandon that you smile the entire time he is onstage. That role is written as a show-stealer, and Strand takes off with it.

The rest of the cast is not eclipsed by the strength of the two leads. Denee Benton as Nabulungi, Pierce Cassedy as Elder McKinley and the entire ensemble turn in excellent performances both in song and character. As you would expect with a Broadway tour, these performers are cream-of-the-crop.

The show runs through Sunday and tickets are available at www.broadwayinrichmond.com or by calling 804 592-3401.


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