Reviews for The Book of Mormon have been overwhelmingly positive, not surprising for a show that in 2011 won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The show has been on tour since 2012, and on Tuesday started a seven-week run at the Forrest Theatre in Center City.
Alexandra Ncube, one of the show’s stars, believes The Book of Mormon deserves all of its accolades.
“It’s wonderful to hear it’s been so well received. We really gel well together. The chemistry is wonderful,” she said of the cast and ensemble. “All the characters are likable. The music is wonderful. The dance numbers are perfect. The costume changes are flawless. The lyrics are hilarious. Prepare to laugh from the moment you sit down.”
The Book of Mormon was developed by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Robert Lopez, creator of the edgy musical Avenue Q.
Thus, it’s not surprising that the show is raunchy. Religion is a favorite target.
Ncube believes that the show bridges the gap for South Park lovers who aren’t necessarily big fans of musicals. At the same time, she said, fans of musicals will not be disappointed.
“It’s irreverent, but if you love musicals and comedy, this is a really good one to see,” she said.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Mormon Church has not condemned the show. In fact, it has even advertised in some of the playbills.
Ncube said the Mormons she has met have been kindhearted. Some Mormon missionaries have stood outside theaters handing out literature promoting their church.
“I’ve never seen any protests,” she said.
The show is about young missionaries from Salt Lake City who are assigned to preach in Uganda, a country rife with famine, disease, violence and poverty. The men experience culture shock upon arriving.
Ncube plays Nabulungi, who lives in Uganda and interacts with the two lead missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham.
The actress, who hails from Arizona, used a dialect disc to prepare for the role. The fact that her father is from Zimbabwe helped.
“I love her,” she said of Nabulungi. “She’s very genuine and very passionate about helping others.”
Ncube, 24, earned a theater degree from Arizona State University in 2012. She is making her first trip to Philadelphia.
Her previous experience includes Arizona-based productions of Spring Awakening and Rent.
Ncube began rehearsals for The Book of Mormon in February in Durham, N.C. She joined the cast that same month in Baltimore.
“This is my first Broadway experience,” she said last Friday in a phone interview from her hotel room in Ottawa, where the show wrapped up on Sunday before heading to Philadelphia. “I’m grateful every day to walk on that stage.”
Ncube said the show has not missed a stride when actors and actresses move on.
“It’s sad to see our dear castmates leave, but the new ones change the dynamics of the show,” she said.
Ncube is looking forward to a continued long run with The Book of Mormon.
“It’s a dream come true to do what I love for a living,” she said. ••
The Forrest Theatre, at 1114 Walnut St., will host The Book of Mormon through Sept. 14. For show dates, times and ticket information, call 800-447-7400 or visit www.forrest-theatre.com/the-book-of-mormon.html