It’ll come as a surprise to few readers that The Book of Mormon is one of my favourite shows – it’s sailing out of Sydney at the end of the week (tickets are still available for the last few shows), so I swung up to the Harbour City for the weekend to say hello to the Lyric one last time, complete with construction. (The weekend was initially advertised as “final shows”, which was kind of a bummer when they released the real date, and I’m told even the cast and crew weren’t sure when the show was actually set to close – even the closing night party was on Sunday night! – but that’s a minor gripe for another time :P). After two years in Australia most of the remaining original cast members as well as several replacement cast and some of the crew are moving on at the end of the season, and I wanted to see them one last time in the roles I’ve come to know them in, as well as check out Joel Granger’s performance as everyone’s favourite repressed district leader Elder McKinley.
Joel took over the role a couple of months ago, with big shoes to fill – after all, the original Australian McKinley was his Hayes Theatre She Loves Me co-star Rowan Witt, whom I firmly believe is the best McKinley to ever grace the BOM stage. Or did. After this weekend, well, I’m not so sure – Joel really gives Rowan a run for his money! I was excited to see how Joel would interpret the part – I’d previously only seen him in SLM, and I wanted to see if he’d translate that same youthful innocence to McKinley (I believe he’s the youngest actor of the six McKinleys I’ve seen). I’m pleased to report that he pulls it off magnificently – he portrays the eagerness of the dedicated young district leader with unbridled energy, bits reminiscent of the very best performances I’ve seen, and a zing that’s all his own. I came away delighted and impressed, so if you want to feel those feelings, head out and catch him on tour!
Some other highlights of the weekend’s shows (I attended Sunday night and both matinees):
- Blake Bowden is absolutely killing (in the good sense) my favourite song from the show right now. That song, of course, is Orlando. Jason says it hit 12 seconds on Sunday night.
- More generally, we were pretty disappointed when a lot of the exaggerated humour was dialled back when the show opened in Sydney, compared to Melbourne’s rendition, but over the year it’s settled back into the over-the-topness we loved, and I’ll be very curious to see if it changes again on tour.
- Catching covers is one of my favourite things (they’re like Pokemon, you gotta catch ’em all), and we were lucky enough to see a few over the weekend. We all saw Ayla Ciccone-Burton as Nabalungi for the first time on Saturday and agreed she was fantastic (and Dayna is now an Understudy Master). Elder Cunningham standby Kieran McGrath was in fine form in an all-Australian principal pairing on Saturday. I saw Jayme-Lee Hanekom’s Naba in my second ever BOM show over a year ago and again on Sunday, and she’s always a delight – I’m very much hoping to be able to catch her as Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
- As always, stage door. Sunday night’s stage door was the busiest I’ve seen on my several trips to Sydney and I’m always grateful to the cast for how much of their time they give us even when they have things to do, people to see. It was great to just stop and chat, not knowing when I’ll see most of them again, especially those who are heading to farther shores. We also managed to chat to a few of the crew and musicians, some of whom were a bit taken-aback to be stopped after the show!
The Book of Mormon plays its final show in Sydney on February 8 before touring to Brisbane from April and Adelaide from June. Whether I can afford to head interstate again is a different question completely, but I hope I’ll be able to make it to 50 shows before BOM leaves Australia!