It would be easy to be either immediately won over by the hype surrounding this show before ever seeing it, or to be disappointed once you had, because it couldn't possibly live up to it. That's why I go into these things with reasonable expectations. I'm already a fan of Trey Parker and Matt Stone (South Park, Team America, Cannibal! The Musical, etc) and Robert Lopez (Avenue Q, Phineas and Ferb, etc), and I can certainly appreciate the work they did creating the book, music and lyrics for this show, The Book of Mormon. But, I do think you have to be attuned to their particular brand of humor in order to fully appreciate it. Poking fun at religion is certainly nothing new for any of them, and they've always brought a sense of the conventions of musical theatre to whatever art form they've tackled, and with The Book of Mormon they've produced something which is both terribly funny and catchy as well.
Upon graduating from the Mormon seminary, Elder Price is primed to convert the town of Orlando, his dream location. However, he's not only paired with the habitually lying Elder Cunningham, but he's sent to Uganda to do his missionary work. This, in and of itself, sets up the basic situation and focus for much of the laughs, but there's also the inclusion of a sensitive social issue, in this case female circumcision, that lends more depth to the plot, as well as an abundance of provocative gags. Needless to say, the fun comes from the sense of self righteousness that exudes from these well meaning, but misguided missionaries, as they attempt to convert the local natives who really have more basic needs to consider.
Mark Evans does a fine job as Elder Price, conflicted at first since he doesn't end up in sunny, rich Florida, but instead in humid and oppressive Uganda. Evans is joined by Christopher John O'Neill as the forever fibbing Elder Cunningham. O'Neill's sunny disposition makes even his most heinous misrepresentation of the church's guidelines seem only amusingly distorted. Samantha Marie Ware as Nabulungi (whose name is continually butchered) does an excellent job, and Derrick Williams is properly menacing as her nemesis, the General (who shall remain nameless, but actually has a suitably tasteless moniker). Kevin Mambo (Mafala Hatimbi) and Grey Henson (Elder McKinley) also contribute nicely to the hijinks.
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker bring a controlled, but manic approach to the direction, and Nicholaw also adds the occasionally inspired choreography. The scenic design is downright eye-catching thanks to the work of Scott Pask, and the costumes by Ann Roth are character appropriate, while Cian McCarthy's music direction keeps this catchy score bubbling along.
Though The Book of Mormon may be a bit controversial, it's all told with tongue-in-cheek, and is far more funny than offensive, although the potential is certainly there. I personally found it hilarious and recommend it to even the most devout (you might learn something). The show continues through March 3, 2013 at the Fabulous Fox Theatre.