(PCM) The Book of Mormon continues to break records as one of the top-grossing Broadway shows of all time. It has won nine Tony Awards including “Best Musical” since its’ debut on Broadway in 2001. Written by “South Park” creators Trey Parker/Matt Stone with Robert Lopez, the show is rip-roaringly hilarious and completely tongue-in-cheek, definitely not one for the easily offended!
The show will be coming to the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia, PA this week and we couldn’t be more excited to check out the performance. We caught up with actor David Larsen who plays the role of Elder Price in the show to talk about his character, life on the road, and more!
On what he is still learning after being with the show while touring the country David said “I would say every performance is different, so you are always learning something each time that you go up on stage. I would think that the details are a bit more minute than they had been a year and a half ago, but we just had the whole creative team out this past week and got a bunch of notes. We changed some things and the way things are being played so that’s a lot of fun and it continues to be new and fresh.”
He views his time on the road as valuable experience, for both his acting and singing. “This show, especially this role, is very tough vocally. It has been a challenge to not only do it one time, but to do it eight times a week. I feel I have become a much better singer because of this show.”
I asked David how important singing was in his life, let alone his career. “I went to college for it. I went to Carnegie Mellon University and I think the practical work experience of doing shows, particularly this role, when I first started learning it, I would go for runs and try to sing while I was running because I knew I was going to need the stamina, as well as, being able to sing long phrases without any breath.”
On the longevity and on-going success of Book Of Mormon, David summed it up very quickly. “I just think the show is so incredibly well-written! It is set up like a very traditional musical, but along with that, it has very contemporary dialogue and the way that the scenes are laid out.”
I agreed, and asked how he viewed the very relatable commentary on social issues such as religion, miscommunication, and commercialism and why it strikes a chord with the audience.
“It is definitely what strikes a chord and within the play there is a lot of crazy stuff being said on-stage and I feel like with such fun music, you don’t realize what they’re singing about because you’re just humming along to these great tunes. I think it’s just everything and the show is so incredibly well-constructed that you can get lost in the music and get lost in the dialogue or get lost in the humor or dance numbers.”
In our PC world, with so many individuals being offended by seemingly everything nowadays and The Book Of Mormon having nothing off limits, he again credited the writers, Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, and Matt Stone. (laughing) “Nobody is safe with them! Misery loves company I suppose. I’m sure people still get offended but in the context of the show you can kind of let it go!”
Interviewing so many performers ‘on the road’, I asked about being in a new town every few weeks, for months on end. David made it clear on the pros and cons of life on a bus. “You are living out of a suitcase, so that can be tough. You don’t have any place to put some roots in the ground, so I think that’s the biggest challenge. That being said, it’s also a great joy because you get to see cities and parts of the country that you would never really spend time in. Appleton, Wisconsin, is not really a tourist destination, I would think, but I was really happy that I went there, as it was a great visit and a great city.”
With so much controversy the show was getting from Conservatives like Glenn Beck (a Mormon) and other Traditional Americans, I asked if there was a noticeable difference in reaction to the show in some regions of the country. Larsen revealed, “It was interesting to be in the more conservative markets to see how they would react, but people seem to love this show everywhere we go.”
His super-positive character of Elder Price, being the eternal optimist, may have had something to do with that. How much of his character came from himself?
“I think there is a lot of me that is Elder Price. I have always been a go-getter and a good kid, but I’m not quite as anal as Elder Price (laughs)! In my real life, I’m much more go with the flow but maybe in my younger years I was a little bit more so.”
When he’s not rehearsing, on stage, or on the road, he keeps himself busy. “I love being able to walk the streets in whatever town I’m in and just taking in the day to day life of the people who are living there. I love going to cool bars and restaurants.” I asked if he had any favorites. “Two of my favorite bars that I’ve been to is one in Washington, D.C. called Ivy and Coney, which is just this little dive Chicago/Detroit bar, so they had two different kinds of hot dogs and it was just a great atmosphere and I became friends with all the owners and the staff there. The other is a place I just visited last night in Boston called The Sevens in Beacon Hill, so anytime I can find a local bar or restaurant and get a feel for the people that are there and live like a local for a little bit is wonderful.”
His next stop in Philadelphia, just a few miles from the PCM headquarters. “I’ve never spent any time in Philly, so I’m honestly looking forward to exploring the entire city. I’ve rented an apartment in Olde City area by Independence Hall and I’m really looking forward to exploring the city. I have to cross-check the schedule, but if I can get to a Flyers game, that will be great as well!”
His plans for 2016 and any upcoming projects? “Cody Jamison Strand, who plays Elder Cunningham with me in the show and our former music director Sue Draus, we’ve written a musical review that’s going to be produced in Denver this January. I’m going to go out and direct that, so that’s kind of the next big thing other than Book Of Mormon that I’m working on right now. We’re very excited about creating new pieces of theater and putting them out there.” Would he like to direct? “Yes, I mean obviously I love performing, but to be on the other side of the table I think can only help your acting as well!”
The Book Of Mormon will be at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia, PA from November 24-December 27. For more information please visit: http://www.forrest-theatre.com/the-book-of-mormon.html