THANK GOD! ‘BOOK OF MOR­MON’ STAYS TRUE TO PRO­FANE, FUNNY FORM

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Ann Roth’s cos­tumes still fea­ture plenty of zaz­zle (es­pe­cially when sin is front and cen­ter) and more than a few ridicu­lously apt ref­er­ences to “The Lion King.” The score, un­der mu­sic di­rec­tor An­drew Gra­ham’s or­ches­tra, sounds lush and full.

But the heart (and there is one) of “The Book of Mor­mon” re­mains in the de­liv­ery of its story, specif­i­cally in hand­some young su­per-Mor­mon El­der Kevin Price (Kevin Clay) and his un­gainly, awk­ward, needy/ nerdy mis­sion part­ner, El­der Arnold Cun­ning­ham (Con­ner Peir­son). El­der Price is the Mor­mon ver­sion of home­com­ing king. El­der Cun­ning­ham is that guy who couldn’t even get elected as­sis­tant trea­surer of the ju­nior var­sity A.V. club.

The plot fol­lows their re­ver­sals in for­tune, with El­der Price even­tu­ally hav­ing his come-to-Je­sus mo­ment wherein Christ calls him some­thing we can­not here in good con­science quote in full. Clay is ideal as El­der Price, feet planted firmly, hands in de­ter­mined fists, chin de­fi­antly up, sell­ing the be­je­sus out of “I Be­lieve.” The an­them is stir­ring be­cause Clay gives it such un­de­ni­able sin­cer­ity. El­der Cun­ning­ham, mean­while, be­comes a hero thanks to his gift for ly­ing, er, us­ing his imag­i­na­tion.

©JULI­ETA CER­VANTES

Kevin Clay and Con­ner Peir­son (with Mon­ica L. Pat­ton, left) star in “The Book of Mor­mon.”

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