By Zac Franzen
The Book of Mormon, The Lied Center for Performing Arts, March 24, 2023
No matter what you might have heard, what preview you’ve watched, or review you’ve read (or am about to read), nothing can quite prepare you for the phenomenal musical The Book of Mormon showing at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
Created by the minds that brought you the television series South Park, in collaboration with Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez, this boundary pushing musical will have your sides splitting, and you’ll be leaving the theatre singing the catchy tunes of this soundtrack.
The Book of Mormon is a satirical musical that tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who are sent to a remote village in Uganda to spread their faith. Created by Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, the show is full of irreverent humor, catchy tunes, and hilarious dance numbers.
From the moment the curtains open, The Book of Mormon grabs your attention with its colorful sets, lively choreography, and engaging performances. The songs are cleverly written and perfectly executed by the talented cast, with standout numbers like “Hello”, “I Believe”, and “Turn It Off” that will have you humming along for days.
During last night’s performance, two understudies played the rolls of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham; but to say their performance was a fitting representation would be an understatement. Vance Klassen, playing the lead role of Elder Price, brought the character to life from his great ego-driven interpretation to his phenomenal vocal range. Kalssen had me on the edge of my seat during his climactic and jaw dropping spectacle of “I Believe”.
Playing his nerdy, socially inept sidekick, Elder Cunningham, was William James Lassiter. Upon the first appearance of Lassiter in this role, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical that he could fill the shoes of this role’s stereotypical Josh-Gad-esque casting; however, the moment I heard William’s amazing laugh that he brought to this role, my doubts were completely shattered. His beautiful energy, and the amazing comedic value he brought to this character was an entertaining sight to see.
Nabulungi, the daughter of the local Ugandan tribesman, and love interest of Elder Cunningham, was played by Berlande. Berlande made this character spring to life with her outstanding voice. Listening to her performance in “Sal Tlay Ka Siti”, and watching her and Lassiter perform “Baptize Me” had everyone in the audience falling in love with her as well.
The story itself is both hilarious and heartwarming, as we see the two missionaries struggle to connect with the locals, navigate cultural differences, and ultimately find a way to make a difference in their lives. While some may find the humor to be controversial or offensive, it’s clear that the creators have a deep respect for the Mormon faith and are using their platform to poke fun at the absurdities of organized religion.Overall, The Book of Mormon is a must-see for anyone who loves musical theater or appreciates sharp wit and clever satire. It’s a show that will leave you laughing, singing, and perhaps even questioning your own beliefs, and it’s one that’s sure to stand the test of time as a modern classic.
If you go: Tickets for The Book of Mormon can be purchased on the Lied Center for Performing Arts website, or by visiting or calling the box office at (402) 472-4747. Tickets start at $36, and the show will be playing at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25th, and 1:30 and 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 24.th
Zac Franzen began his life in the arts at the age of six years old. His vast experience includes directing, teaching, and countless performances in plays, immersion theatre, poetry, and interp; his personal favorite being musical theatre. Zac is a licensed judged for the state of Nebraska in both Play Production and Speech, traveling across the state to work with students from all schools. He has numerous achievements on both the state and national level, and was accepted to attend Juilliard’s Theatre for the Performing Arts. Zac is a very passionate and engaged person who always promotes the enriching benefits the arts can give for all lives.
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