Popejoy Hall welcomed the raucous musical "The Book of Mormon" for the third time from Feb. 4 to Feb. 9.
The show, which keeps audiences laughing for the entirety of its two-and a half-hour run time, has garnered praise nationally for its catchy songs, elaborate group dance numbers and the humorous way it deals with themes such as racism, religion and poverty.
"The Book of Mormon" won nine Tony Awards — including Best Musical in 2011 — and has been running on Broadway for nearly nine years since March of 2011.
The award-winning musical follows two 19-year-old Mormon men as they embark upon their mission. The pair is comprised of the well-respected perfectionist Elder Price and his antithesis, the goofy Elder Cunningham.
The pair of missionaries are unexpectedly sent to Uganda where they are faced with poverty and disease — unlike anything they have ever seen. The elders at the mission center have yet to baptize anyone in the region, but the new pair are determined to change that.
The New Mexico audience attending Popejoy reacted with overwhelming praise to the production. After the show, audience members Monee Korbas and Amy Anderson agreed with the popular consensus.
"The show had high energy — the actors did really great," Anderson said.
Korbas agreed and said, "I laughed really hard. I liked the way it ended; it has a good message."
The show, whose own ad campaign described as irreverent and even blasphemous, attracts audiences with its anti-religious themes. Mikey Junchaya, who saw the show on Feb. 5, discussed these themes and said the song called "Hasa Diga Eebowai" was his favorite.
In this particular scene, Elder Price and Cunningham have just arrived in Africa. As the pair begin to learn about the villagers' lives, they are introduced to the saying "Hasa Diga Eebowai," which the villagers use to deal with the tragedy in their lives. The maxim, which the characters translate roughly to "screw you God," is repeated throughout the song.
"I liked the 'screw you God' scene," Junchaya said. "That was definitely my favorite. I was laughing until I was in tears."
The sets used in "The Book of Mormon" — which range from an airport to one character’s hell dream — are quite intricate. Some traveling Broadway shows with sets as complex as those used for "The Book of Mormon" simplify their sets for their traveling stage show.
This was not the case in this production. The sets and props were nearly identical to those used on Broadway, as was the quality of the performance.
In fact, the only real difference between the two productions was caused by the inevitable difference in the size of the venues: The Eugene O’Neill theater, where "The Book of Mormon" is permanently housed in New York City, is less than half the size of Popejoy. This size difference caused a few issues in sound quality and occasionally made dialogue difficult to hear at Popejoy.
Even as the show has continued and flourished nine years since its debut, the material continues to surprise and entertain audiences with its fresh and witty approach to storytelling, earning its place as a musical theater classic.
Loreena Cain is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @loreena_cain