Sam McLellan, Sam Nackman and company of THE BOOK OF MORMON, North American tour. Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Sam McLellan, Sam Nackman and company of THE BOOK OF MORMON, North American tour. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

The Book of Mormon is playing through Sunday, March 19 at the Fisher Theatre.

With an exuberant cast of overzealous missionaries and blasphemous African villagers, the hilarious, irreverent hit musical, The Book of Mormon, as fresh and funny as ever, returns to the Fisher Theatre through March 19.

With book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the ingenious minds behind the animated TV series South Park, and Robert Lopez, co-creator of the successful Avenue Q, the show swept the Tony Awards, including Best Musical, following its Broadway premiere in 2011. The original Broadway cast recording won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, and its West End opening met with similar accolades.

The story centers on fledgling Mormon missionaries Arnold Cunningham (Sam Nackman) and Kevin Price (Sam McLellan), an unlikely pair assigned to a remote, poverty-ridden village in Uganda. Elder Cunningham is the quintessential bespectacled nerd who desperately wants to befriend his new partner, Elder Price, a handsome, egotistical young man who is clearly disillusioned with his companion and their destination. His dismay increases upon discovering the villagers have no interest in learning about the Latter-Day Saints; they are too busy keeping the AIDS epidemic at bay and protecting their wives and daughters from a brutal warlord with a name too profane to publish, played by native Detroiter and Wayne State University theater graduate, Dewight Braxton Jr.

The village is populated by a quirky assortment of characters whose disinterest in religion prompts the determined missionaries to try some inventive techniques, including a mostly fictional rendition of their sacred teachings. The result is a hilarious series of events that culminate in a sidesplitting play-within-a-play performed before a flabbergasted group of Mormon bigwigs sent to observe the new recruits.

The musical has not changed in the last dozen years, which is a good thing. It’s a show that seems to attract talented, energetic actors, and this production is no exception.

The two Sams, McLellan and Nackman, are excellent as Elders Price and Cunningham. Nackman stole several scenes with his expressive facial expressions and physical comedy moves.

He is especially inspired in his scenes with Nabulungi (Berlande), a pretty young villager whose name he constantly butchers with increasingly creative mispronunciations.

A highlight is “Baptize Me,” a duet filled with double entendres and sexual innuendos as Cunningham performs his first baptism.

Another memorable number is the “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,” replete with flames, dancing devils, and guest appearances by notorious bad guys such as Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer and O. J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran.

The touring production is directed and choreographed by Jennifer Werner, based on the original Broadway direction by Parker and Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw, who also did the original choreography. The show is a continuous visual treat, thanks to the outstanding skills of Scott Pask (set design), Ann Roth (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Brian Ronan (sound).

This musical is not designed for people who are offended by profanity or overly concerned with political correctness. The “f” word is used with abandon and no subject is off-limits, from organized religion to AIDS to female circumcision. Nonetheless, those who appreciate a musical comedy that is witty, irreverent and more than a little bit raunchy will find much to appreciate.

The Book of Mormon is playing through Sunday, March 19, at the Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., with a special open-caption performance on Friday, March 17, at 8 pm. Tickets are available by phone at 1-800-982-2787 or online at www.broadwayindetroit.comFor group sales (10 or more), call 313-871-1132 or email

A limited number of $25 tickets are available through an online lottery at Entries for all performances will be accepted until Friday, March 17, at 10 am. Winners, who will be notified daily via email, may purchase up to two (2) tickets at $25 each.

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