The Book of Mormon, winner of nine Tony Awards® including Best Musical, will play a limited engagement at Segerstrom Center for the Arts May 13-25, 2014.
The Book of Mormon features book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone. Parker and Stone are the four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of the landmark animated series, South Park. Tony Award-winner Lopez is co-creator of the long-running hit musical comedy, Avenue Q. The musical is choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw (Monty Python’s Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone) and is directed by Nicholaw and Parker.
We had the exclusive opportunity to interview Christopher Shyer who plays the voice of the Missionary Training Center, Elder Price’s Dad, the famous Joseph Smith and the Mission President in The Book of Mormon Musical. Shyer also plays a surprise role that “you have to watch the show to find out who that character is.”
What are the differences between The Book of Mormon musical and other musicals you have done in the past?
This is the most irreverent project, musically speaking that I’ve ever been a part of. I think it’s one of the funnier shows that I’ve had the great fortune to be a part of. The show at times is very heartfelt, about a couple of young Mormon boys who are on their mission to Uganda.
You play various roles in the show, how do you prepare for these characters?
I get to play the founder of the Mormon Faith, Joseph Smith who found the golden plates and then translated them. I did some research on the actual person and watched the South Park episode, it felt almost like an infomercial for Mormonism. I love doing research, that’s a biggest part of why I love being an Actor. The other characters I get to play is Mormon President, which is in the later part of the show. I also play Elder Price’s Father and then I’m Missionary Training Center’s voice and then I play another character that I’m not allowed to say and not listed in the program. It’s considered a gag, this character shows up a few times.
What is it like to work with such a talented group and what is your favorite scene in the show?
The group is amazing. I’m the eldest of 47, but all of the Mormon boys, are fresh out of their University and College Programs. Most of the cast is from New York or LA, and for some this is the biggest show they have ever been a part of and they are excited to be a part of it. One of my favorite scene is playing the Mormon President in the 2nd Act and the Uganda villagers are putting on a a little pageant to tell us their understanding of what they understand of The Book of Mormon.
What advice would you tell someone that want’s to get into acting / theater?
A big part of being successful in this business is holding on to a sense of grace while there is a big dose of resilience. There is a lot of rejection in this business. You are constantly putting yourself out there to get the job and you’re not always the right person for the part. Keep a sense of humility about you while staying focused and remember why you wanted to do this in the first place.
Well Christopher, it has been a pleasure and I wish the best to you and your fellow cast members.
See The Book of Mormon now at Segerstrom Center for the Arts through May 25.