NO subject is sacred or taboo in this uplifting parody of the inherent absurdity of modern religion, its fervent purveyors and its potential followers.

No subject is sacred or taboo in this irresistibly catchy and uplifting parody of the inherent absurdity of modern religion, its fervent purveyors and its potential followers.

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have teamed with songwriter Robert Lopez - of naughty puppet show Avenue Q and Disney's Frozen fame, no less - to translate that TV cartoon series' shock tactics to the stage with toe-tapping tunes and gleefully obscene lyrics.

Shauntelle Benjamin, Blake Bowden and Nyk Bielak in The Book of Mormon. Picture: Jeff Busby
Shauntelle Benjamin, Blake Bowden and Nyk Bielak in The Book of Mormon. Picture: Jeff Busby

As newly ordained door-knockers Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, lead actors Blake Bowden and Nyk Bielak are perfectly mismatched in the classic comedy duo mould - the former tall, lean, vain and self-centred, the latter short, round, unkempt and insecure - and sent as missionaries to a wartorn village in Uganda.

Bowden gets to display his incredible vocal range and power on a couple of showstopper tunes, You and Me (But Mostly Me) and I Believe, successfully making his Price character into a sympathetic, loveable foil whose arrogance and sense of entitlement is really born of naivety.

The Book of Mormon’s Tigist Strode and Nyk Bielak. Picture: Jeff Busby
The Book of Mormon’s Tigist Strode and Nyk Bielak. Picture: Jeff Busby

It's Canadian import (via the Broadway production) Bielak who steals the show though as Cunningham, with his nervous nerdiness and boundlessly energetic dance moves.

Victorian newcomer Tigist Strode, as young villager and romantic interest Nabulungi, displays great comic timing and soaring vocal ability, and should have a very bright future.

When Cunningham preaches his own hastily invented interpretation of Mormonism - peppered with references to Star Wars/Trek and The Lord of the Rings - to the Ugandans, we end up with a song-and-dance routine that merges founder Joseph Smith's story with AIDS, female genital mutilation, diarrhoea and sex with frogs.

The Book of Mormon with Tigist Strode, Blake Bowden and Nyk Bielak. Picture: Jeff Busby
The Book of Mormon with Tigist Strode, Blake Bowden and Nyk Bielak. Picture: Jeff Busby

As if that's not enough, there's a Spooky Mormon Hell Dream with chorus lines of dancing demons and skeletons in a fiery inferno, a Chippendales-style disco number where Cunningham has to Man Up like Jesus, and a sultry soul duet which uses Baptize Me as a euphemism.

Oh, and the whole thing mercilessly crucifies Disney's The Lion King at every opportunity - right down to a cheerful, upbeat African song that definitely does not mean Hakuna Matata.

The Book of Mormon

Festival Theatre, Adelaide

Until August 18


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