STORY WRITTEN BY RITA CHARLESTON
For 21st Century Media
“The Book of Mormon,” a religious satire musical, with book, lyrics and music by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone, best known for creating the animated comedy “South Park,” makes its Philadelphia debut at the Forrest Theatre July 29 through Sept. 14.
“The Book of Mormon” tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries, Elders Price and Cunningham, who went to a remote village in northern Uganda, where a brutal warlord is threatening the local population. Naïve and optimistic, the two missionaries try to share the Book of Mormon, one of their scriptures, which only one of them has read, but have trouble connecting with the locals, who are more worried about war, famine, poverty and AIDS than about religion.
Ohio-born actor Ron Bohmer takes multiple roles in the show, including Price’s dad, leader of the Mormon Missionaries, the Mission Training Center voice, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, and Jesus Christ.
“So I’m basically playing all the old white guys in the show,” Bohmer sai. “And I guess my favorite is Jesus Christ. How often do you get to play Jesus? And in or production Jesus gets to say lots of things I don’t think he was ever recorded as saying in the Bible.”
After nearly seven years of development, the show opened on Broadway in 2011. Since then, it has garnered overwhelmingly positive critical response and numerous theater awards including nine Toy Awards, one of which was for Best Musical, and the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
Bohmer said this is a truly wonderful show, beginning with its “amazing writing that manages to find humorous things in faiths of all kinds, not just the Mormon church. And what’s even more remarkable is that you leave the show with an incredibly positive feeling, and not feeling that your faith has been bashed in any way.”
Bohmer explains that he grew up in the ‘70s, watching lots of variety shows on TV.
“There was all that singing and dancing that appealed to me and that I loved watching. And so to me, musical theater seemed the closest thing to study to prepare for what I wanted to do.”
And so he did. After graduating from Webster University in St. Louis, he worked for the Disney organization in Florida for a year before moving to New York. By the early ‘90s he got his first big break, appearing on Broadway in the revival of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Since then, he’s appeared in many fine productions, and doesn’t intend to stop. “One of the greatest things about this show is that when we do a curtain call, we dance. There’s something about ending your day with an audience on its feet and dancing in a celebratory fashion that makes it very hard to wake up the next day in a bad mood.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “The Book of Mormon”
WHEN: July 29 through Sept. 14, at the Forrest Theater, 1114 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
INFO.: For tickets call (800) 447-7400 or check www.forrest-theatre.com or www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway/.