A new Mormon-themed musical premieres

Published: Wednesday, July 27 2011 2:01 p.m. MDT

PITTSFIELD, MASS. - Brace yourselves, theater-goers. Another Mormon-themed musical is on the way.

"Mothers, Mormons and Monsters," a new one-act, 90-minute musical by 23-year-old Sam Salmond, opened recently in Pittsfield, Mass. Unlike "The Book of Mormon," which is still making news on Broadway with its "dynamic" ticket pricing model, "Mothers, Mormons and Monsters" is a small (only four characters), introspective musical that, according to Variety, "presents itself as an intimate, seriocomic clash of faith, family and fear — but the result is (an) unfocused, uneven work."

Stage Company promotional materials describe the show as "a funny, quirky new musical about a boy's struggles with growing up and coming out." In talking about this "world premiere from BSC's acclaimed musical theater lab," the company says the plot revolves around how "a boy and his Mormon mother smile their way through three shattering divorces. As he grows, the boy hides under the bed sheets, prays fervently and tries to figure out just who is responsible for his crappy, crappy life."

Variety theater critic Frank Rizzo wrote that the show "doesn't have the sophistication, complexity and thematic clarity to which it aspires...."

Boston Globe critic Don Aucoin was much warmer in his response to the musical, calling it "impressive." He referenced the opening night pre-show joke that this was "the only Mormon show you can get tickets to" and said that "Mothers, Mormons and Monsters" has "a lot more going for it than the fact that, unlike Broadway's Tony-winning 'The Book of Mormon,' it's not sold out from here to eternity."

But Jeffery Borak, critic for the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, sided with Variety, referring to it as a musical that "wants to have it all ways but winds up with none."

"'Mormons, Mothers and Monsters' has no clear sense of its own identity," Borak writes. "Its more playful instincts on the one hand and profoundly darker impulses on the other don't keep each other easy company."

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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