The Book of Mormon is back at the Durham Performing Arts Center by popular demand, as a “Season Add-On,” for 16 performances, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29th. DPAC hopes that the Second Coming of this rollicking, R-rated 2011 Tony Award®-winning musical from the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the cheeky and sometimes foul-mouthed animated series South Park and the co-creator of Avenue Q: The Musical will have a record-breaking two-week run from Dec. 29th to Jan. 10th in DPAC‘s 2,700-seat state-of-the-art theater in the American Tobacco Historic District of downtown Durham.
(Note: A massive blizzard struck on opening night of the irreverent musical’s inaugural Feb. 11-16 and 18-23, 2014 run at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Act of God? That’s not for me to say, but heartier DPAC patrons braved the wintery conditions in such numbers that they set box-office records.)
The Book of Mormon made its Broadway debut — co-directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw and choreographed by Nicholaw — on March 24, 2011 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it is still playing, with 1,993 performances in the book as of Dec. 27, 2015. The musical, which features music, lyrics, and book by South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez, won nine 2011 Tonys, including the awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, plus the 2011 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, five 2011 Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, four 2011 Outer Critics Circle Awards including Best Musical, and the 2011 Drama League Award for Best Musical. The show’s original cast album, which is available on Ghostlight Records, also won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
Co-directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw and choreographed by Nicholaw, the Second National Tour of The Book of Mormon features sets by Scott Pask, lighting by Brian MacDevitt, costumes by Ann Roth, hair design by Josh Marquette, and sound design by Brian Ronan. The musical’s creative team also includes music director, vocal arranger, and co-orchestrator Stephen Oremus, co-orchestrator Larry Hochman, music coordinator Michael Keller, associate director Steve Bebout, associate director Jennifer Werner, associate director Steve Sposito, and associate choreographer John MacInnis. The show also features dance arrangements by Glen Kelly.
“The Book of Mormon is a high-energy show for two-and-a-half hours,” claims Daxton Bloomquist, a 28-year-old native of the Wichita, KS suburb of Kingman who grew up in nearby El Dorado. Bloomquist plays Elder McKinley, the Mormon Church’s District Leader in Uganda who, like the apostle Paul, has a proverbial “thorn” in his side. (McKinley’s thorn is his complete denial of his sexual attraction to men.)
Bloomquist adds, “[The Book of Mormon] is a little bit risque. It will try to take you out of your comfort zone. It may offend some viewers…. But come ready to laugh.”
Daxton Bloomquist, who earned a BFA degree in theater from Wichita State University in May 2010 and moved to New York City that September, soon joined the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon. He started out as a Swing and later performed in the show’s Ensemble before assuming the role of Elder McKinley in show’s Second National Tour on Dec. 1, 2014.
Bloomquist says, “There’s a fine line between camping it up and making [my portrayal of this conflicted character] as honest and real as possible…. I wanted to be an Elder McKinley that’s really good at hiding [his secret sexual attraction to men]. The fun part is McKinley’s struggle [to deny his forbidden feelings].”
In addition to Daxton Bloomquist as Elder McKinley, the cast of the “Jumamosi” (Swahili for “Saturday”) Tour includes David Larsen as Elder Kevin Price, who is sent on a Mormon mission to Uganda but wishes with all his heart that he had been sent to Orlando, FL, instead; Cody Jamison Strand as Price’s teammate Elder Cunningham, who mixes Star Wars and Lord of the Rings characters and stories with scripture as he clumsily tries to convert Ugandan villagers; Sterling Jarvis as Price and Cunningham’s Ugandan tour guide Mafala Hatimbi; Candace Quarrels as Hatimbi’s daughter Nabulungi, who dreams of visiting “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (Salt Lake City); Edward Watts as the Missionary Training Center Voice/Price’s Dad/Joseph Smith/Mission President; and David Aron Damane as the murderous Ugandan warlord General Butt-F**king Naked.
“The Book of Mormon is about two missionaries [i.e., Elder Price and Elder Cunningham] who meet in Salt Lake City and are sent to Uganda. That’s when all the crazy stuff starts…,” says Daxton Bloomquist. “My character [Elder McKinley] is the district leader of the Ugandan mission. He has his own way of living in Uganda, which is not the easiest place to convert people to Mormonism….
“When you see Elder McKinley grow up is when he finally learns to be his true, authentic self…,” says Bloomquist. “He loves the faith; he loves being a Mormon…. He [finally] realizes that he can love himself as well as love helping others, which is what the Mormon faith is.”
Bloomquist adds, “I think The Book of Mormon has a lot of heart. It’s funny. It steps over the line. It makes a lot of jokes [in questionable taste]. It’s very South Park…. But I think the end of the show really wraps things up. The show is so brilliantly written and has so much heart [that it connects to audiences] … and has a huge payoff.”
In describing the show’s original Broadway production, Vogue magazine characterized The Book of Mormon as “a faith-based extravaganza of jaw-dropping obscenity, hair-raising blasphemy, and irresistible good cheer that may just be the funniest musical of all time” [emphasis added]. In The New York Times, Ben Brantley called the show “The best musical of this century. Heaven on Broadway! A celebration of the privilege of living inside that improbable paradise called a musical comedy.”
When asked about differences between the show’s original Broadway production and the Second National Tour, Daxton Bloomquist claims, “The difference is, literally, the people in the show. The production quality is exactly the same. You’re getting a very Broadway production. The only difference is the people in the show.”
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 24th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/big-break-book-of-mormon-elder-gets-the-gig-heads/article_55599226-a908-11e5-8c7c-6335294a5d92.html (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); Dec. 23rd Durham, NC Indy Week preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-book-of-mormon/Event?oid=4875635; and Dec. 22nd Raleigh, NC Broadwayworld.com Raleigh interview with Candace Quarells, conducted by Jeffrey Kare: http://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-TV-Candace-Quarells-of-THE-BOOK-OF-MORMON-National-Tour-20151222
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE BOOK OF MORMON at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 29-31, 8 p.m. Jan. 1, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 2, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 5-7, 8 p.m. Jan. 8, 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 9, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $39-$170. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), email@example.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1732682.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/the-book-of-mormon-1 and https://www.facebook.com/events/1513944522237538/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ah74ep_kdg.
THE TOUR: http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/second-national-tour, http://ibdb.com/Production/View/499334, https://www.facebook.com/BookofMormonMusicalTour, and https://twitter.com/BookMormonTour.
DPAC NEWS RELEASE: http://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/the-book-of-mormon-on-sale-september-12.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29th, performance.
The Book of Mormon (2011 Broadway and 2013 West End musical): http://www.bookofmormonthemusical.com/ (official website), http://www.bookofmormonbroadway.com/ (official North American website), http://bookofmormonlondon.com/home.php (official London website), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=488720 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/TheBookOfMormonOnBroadway (Facebook page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Mormon_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia.
Trey Parker (co-director and music, lyrics, and book): http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/second-national-tour (tour bio), http://www.southparkstudios.com/fans/behind/creator-bios (official “South Park” bio), http://ibdb.com/Person/View/488723 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005295/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trey_Parker (Wikipedia).
Robert Lopez (music, lyrics, and book): http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/second-national-tour (tour bio), http://ibdb.com/Person/View/109408 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0520188/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://www.facebook.com/bobbylopez1 (Facebook page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lopez (Wikipedia.
Matt Stone (music, lyrics, and book): http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/second-national-tour (tour bio), http://www.southparkstudios.com/fans/behind/creator-bios (official “South Park” bio), http://ibdb.com/Person/View/488722 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001778/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Stone (Wikipedia).
Daxton Bloomquist (actor who plays Elder McKinley): http://bookofmormonbroadway.com/second-national-tour (tour bio), http://ibdb.com/Person/View/496892 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6227436/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://twitter.com/daxbloomquist (Twitter page).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)