It’s not unusual for a matinee performance to feature an understudy or two, even in the 2 month stay of a bus and truck tour. So it was a degree of trepidation that I noted Cody Jamison Strand was listed in the loose sheet addition to the playbill as Elder Cunningham, a not inconsequential leading role in Book of Mormon. To make matters worse there was no mention made of any biographical information. Into the void we were open to spin a fantasy or two.
Did the B of M company currently at The Arnoff in Cincinnati need an emergency Cunningham and so was giving an emergency tryout to Strand in SF just to make sure he could do it? Did AJ Holmes, the regular SF Cunningham, get so wrapped up the 49er-Panther playoff game that he forgot to make call?
We’ll never know.
What I do know is that Strand played his Elder with panache and winning ease. The mark of a pro is that the audience never figures out who the substitute is.
What one gets about the show is the fun Trey Parker and Matt Stone must have had writing it. Everybody knows the creators of South Park have always had a walk on the great line between paying homage to The Great White Way while simultaneously goofing on it.
The straight man for their comedic daggers in B of M is the Lion King which was just too juicy to pass up.
In a similar vein there is plenty of skewering of the happy coincidences that the Mormon faith’s believers can never doubt and skeptics will never countenance. While not intended as treatise on Mormonism, there is obvious affection for the Mormon culture that allow Parker and his cohorts to avoid mere mean spiritedness while it actually aids them as they rip to shreds vast quantities upon various Mormon beliefs.
Beyond that all I can say is that the show has great energy, worthy dancing, and performances that are outstanding.