‘Book of Mormon’ comes to Forrest Theatre

Com­ing to Philly: Al­ex­an­dra Ncube, one of the stars of The Book of Mor­mon, is in Phil­adelphia for a sev­en-week run of the hit mu­sic­al. The show, which won nine Tony Awards in 2011, is at the For­rest Theatre in Cen­ter City.

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

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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