Avid theatergoers have been yearning for the curtain to rise on “The Book of Mormon” in The City since it nabbed nine Tony Awards last year, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction and Best Choreography.
The hot-ticket Broadway show, which officially embarked on its first touring production and recently wrapped its 100th performance on the road, finally opens at The Curran on Tuesday.
What's the allure?
Chalk it up to the brilliant concept spawned by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who collaboriated with Robert Lopez, one of the geniuses behind “Avenue Q.”
The show chronicles two very naive Mormon missionaries (Elders Price and Cunnningham) as they trek to Uganda to share their religious scriptures. Suddenly, they find themselves befuddled by the locals who have more pressing concerns – famine and AIDS among them.
The result is a festive satire that already has been hailed as one of the best musicals of all time.
The fierce enthusiasm behind the show, and its success, is not lost on Grey Henson, who managed to land his first professional role right out of college (Carnegie Mellon University) in this tour. He plays Elder McKinley, the closeted gay Mormon who believes he can cure his homosexuality.
“It's been a wild, wild ride,” Henson says. “Of course, I had heard of the show before auditioning but I wasn't able to see it because of the ticket availability in New York. But I had listened to the music. I'm still pinching myself. This is the ultimate first-start.”
Henson performs one of the show's more spirited numbers, “Turn It Off,” which includes a fascinating tap sequence and illuminates the dilemma of suppressing one's true feelings. Other stellar numbers in the Grammy-winning songbook include “Hello” and “Hasa Diga Eebowai.”
“The production itself is so well structured,” Henson adds. “No matter what role it is, I think each character is unique and it's just so new and different that it's changing the face of musical theater. It's such a testament to wonderful writing.”
While the musical is R-rated, Henson is quick to point out that its “brilliance and hilarity” also leave room for matters of the heart.
“I think the show is more relevant and timely than ever before,” he says. “I mean, through this lens of these Mormon boys going off to Africa, and then having the most wild times of their lives, it's just something very different. This show isn't going out of style any time soon.”
Amen to that.