On Aug. 7-12, the Durham Performing Arts Center will open its electrifying 2018-19 2018-19 SunTrust Broadway Series with an octet of high-voltage performances of The Book of Mormon. DPAC hopes that the Third 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 be another box-office bonanza — as it was in 2014 and 2016 — for DPAC‘s 2,700-seat state-of-the-art theater in the American Tobacco Historic District of downtown Durham, NC.
“The creators of this musical are the writers of South Park, and I think that this musical is bringing people to the theater who would not otherwise come,” says 29-year-old Boston, MA native Andy Huntington Jones, who plays Elder McKinley, the Mormon Church’s District 9 Leader in Uganda. McKinley, like the apostle Paul, has a proverbial “thorn” in his side. (McKinley’s thorn is … something that Jones thinks members of the audience should be allowed to discover for themselves during a performance.)
He adds, “I think this show tackles some incredibly controversial topics in some incredibly controversial ways. But I think that any audience member, regardless of their beliefs, can learn something about being human. Everybody ends up laughing!”
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 3,083 performances in the book as of Aug. 5, 2018. 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 — which commenced on Dec. 11, 2012 in Chicago, IL, and is currently scheduled to conclude on May 26, 2019 in Dayton, OH — 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; co-orchestrators Stephen Oremus and Larry Hochman; music coordinator Michael Keller; associate directors Marc Bruni, Steve Sposito, and Steve Bebout; Broadway associate director Jennifer Werner; and associate choreographer John MacInnis. The show also features dance arrangements by Glen Kelly.
In addition to Andy Jones as Elder McKinley, the cast of the Second (or Jumamosi, which is Swahili for “Saturday”) National Tour of The Book of Mormon includes Kevin Clay 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; Conner Peirson 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; Jacques C. Smith as Price and Cunningham’s Ugandan tour guide Mafala Hatimbi; Kayla Pecchioni as Hatimbi’s daughter Nabulungi, who dreams of visiting “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” (Salt Lake City); Ron Bohmer as the Missionary Training Center Voice/Price’s Dad/Joseph Smith/Mission President; and Corey Jones as the murderous Ugandan warlord General Butt-F**king Naked.
Andy Jones says, “Elder McKinley is the leader of the missionaries in Uganda, and he is having a hard time converting any Africans. He’s also a bit confused about his own feelings — and about unwanted thoughts that won’t leave him alone. But he handles these uncomfortable situations with a smile and an overdose of optimism.”
Jones says, “This is my first time replacing an actor in an existing production. I went to an audition this past December, and I started performances in January. I went in, I sang a few songs, and they offered me the part.”
He adds, “I had seen the original cast on Broadway. Until I started working on the show, I had forgotten how much heart is in the story. This show definitely pokes fun at religion, but it also celebrates faith and friendship”
After earning a degree in musical theater from the University of Michigan in 2011, Andy Jones moved to New York City. “I became interested in theater as a kid,” he says. “My first production was a community-theater production of The Wizard of Oz. I played the coroner who pronounces that the Witch is truly dead.” From that moment on, he says, “I’ve been in love with theater ever since.”
Jones was a member of the Ensemble and understudy for Prince Topher (which is short for “Christopher”) in the original Broadway cast of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which made its belated debut on the Great White Way on March 3, 2013; he was a member of the Ensemble and understudy for David Shayne in the 2014 Broadway production of Bullets Over Broadway; and he performed the role of Rum Tum Tugger’s older, more responsible brother Munkustrap in the 2016 Broadway Revival of Cats.
Jones played Prince Topher in the 2014-16 tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella that performed at DPAC on Nov. 18-13, 2014. Ace Triangle Review critic Viki Atkinson praised his performance: “Andy Jones’ Prince Topher … is unworldly and untried, but possesses a noble heart and longs to accomplish something good in his life…. Jones manages to play the naïveté of the prince without turning him into a buffoon, and his clear-toned tenor voice blends beautifully with [Paige] Faure’s [as Cinderella].”
“I think that there’s a similarity between Prince Topher and Elder McKinley,” says Andy Jones. “They are both fairly innocent; but during the course of the play, they learn something about themselves.”
Jones also notes, “I have a brother and sister-in-law who used to be Mormons, but recently left the church. So, I was familiar with their experience. Plus, our production team provided us with quite a bit of information on the experiences of Mormon missionaries.”
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.”
“The Book of Mormon tries pretty hard to keep the storytelling as consistent as possible across the different companies,” says Andy Jones. “So, you will have the same experience in Durham as you would have on Broadway. But each cast is different, and there’s an individual sparkle to each performer. Every time, people see The Book of Mormon, they have an opportunity to see a really funny retelling of a story about [religious] beliefs and humanity.”
SECOND OPINION: July 31st Raleigh, NC WRAL.com preview by Kathy Hanrahan for “What’s on Tap”: https://www.wral.com/-book-of-mormon-celebrates-faith-humor-/17704428/; and July 29th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Roy C. Dicks: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article215505405.html.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents THE BOOK OF MORMON at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7-9, 8 p.m. Aug. 10, 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 11, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $29 and up, plus taxes and fees. Note: There will be a $25-per-ticket lottery, starting 2.5 hours before each performance. Click here, scroll down, and click LOTTERY for details.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369510/1732682.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/user/BookOfMormonBroadway.
DPAC‘S 2018-19 “IT’S OUR NEW YORK, NEW YORK” SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: https://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2018-19.
THE TOUR: https://bookofmormonbroadway.com/tour, https://www.ibdb.com/tour-production/the-book-of-mormon-jumamosi-499334, https://www.facebook.com/TheBookOfMormonOnBroadway, https://twitter.com/BookofMormon, and https://www.youtube.com/user/BookOfMormonBroadway.
TOUR CAST & CREATIVE TEAM: https://bookofmormonbroadway.com/national-tour.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7th, 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), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/the-book-of-mormon-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://southpark.cc.com/about/creator-bios (official South Park bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/trey-parker-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), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/robert-lopez-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://southpark.cc.com/about/creator-bios (official South Park bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/matt-stone-488722 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001778/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Stone (Wikipedia).
Andy Huntington Jones (actor who plays Elder McKinley): https://bookofmormonbroadway.com/national-tour (tour bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/andy-huntington-jones-506861 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8567433/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=707995830 (Facebook page), https://www.instagram.com/iamandyhjones/ (Instagram), and https://twitter.com/IAMANDYHJONES (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.)