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Reviewed by BERNIE BELLAN Despite  all the build-up to "The Book of Mormon", I doubt that many who were in attendance tonight (March 18) at the Concert Hall really knew what lay in store for them.

Other than being aware that "Mormon" was the result of the twisted minds of Trey Parker and Matt Stone - of "South Park" fame, along with the musical genius of Robert Lopez, currently the hottest songwriter working in musicals these days, the story behind this show is not well known. That's probably because it's quite nuts!
What can you say about a plot that involves Mormon missionaries travelling to Africa, where they deal with a whole host of challenges, including a vicious general by the name of "Butt-
Fucking-Naked" who is paranoid about female clitorises. (Look, if you find this offensive, then you likely have never watched "South Park" and would have no interest in attending "The Book of Mormon" in the first place.)
In fact, there is a certain order to the story, zany as it may seem. As the two protagonists, "Elder Price" and "Elder Cunningham" struggle to convert any of the Africans they encounter, they are forced to come to terms with many of the fears that have haunted them since childhood.
Along the way they have a series of hilarious encounters with various other cast members.
While the lyrics to the songs are clever enough, one drawback that I had with this show is that I found it difficult to discern many of the lyrics. There are many references to pop culture icons and, given the chaotic minds of Parker and Stone, it's not always easy to get those references  - especially if you're not familiar with films such as "The Matrix" or even "Star Wars" or "Star Trek".
The first act, as well, is slower paced than the second act, but that's quite deliberate. As much as this show is quite zany, it does develop an actual plot, and character development is necessary to understand why the two leads, Price and Cunningham, take off in diametrically opposite directions.
The second act contains all the show-stopping scenes - including a trip into Hell that is absolutely fabulous. It also devolves into some of the most vulgar and lewdest imagery that you're likely to see on a stage anywhere, including graphic images of a man having sex with a frog. (In case you need to understand why, it's because having sex with a frog will ward off AIDS, or so one of the missionaries tells the villagers.)
You might also come out of this show thinking of such memorable lines as "I have maggots in my scrotum" or, as Jesus says to Elder Cunningham, "You're a dick." - not the most literate musical you're likely ever to see, and certainly not at the level of sophistication of a Cole Porter or Irving Berlin musical, but hey, our whole culture seems to be dumbing down, so why not just go with the flow and have some fun?
One final note: The dance numbers are terrific and the singing voices of all the actors is first-rate - exactly as you'd expect from a touring Broadway show.
"The Book of Mormon" is on until March 22.

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