When I first heard that the creators of “South Park,” Matt Stone and Trey Parker, were writing a musical, I have to admit I laughed. And not for the reason you would think — I was sure the show would be funny, but to think that the two who coined such memorable songs as “Blame Canada” and “Kyle’s Mom” were tackling the Great White way, where many patrons buy a ticket just because they hear it’s hot — I could only imagine the blue-haired protests that would surely form. Fast forward four years and Book of Mormon has received nine Tony Awards and countless others. (Including one for Best Score, which included Robert Lopez of Avenue Q and Frozen fame. Somehow his name is never mentioned when the show is.) And now this show is coming to Providence for the second time. How can a musical written by two guys famous for their…let’s just say not so savory jokes… become such a hit? “The show has a lot of heart,” says Daxton Bloomquist who plays Elder McKinley.
This 27-year-old native of Kansas has been involved with the show for three years. “I moved to NYC five years ago and began pounding the pavement. I was cast on the first Disney Fantasies cruise ship, and six weeks after getting home I landed the role of Swing in the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon.” From swing he was cast as a regular ensemble member in the Broadway production, and then auditioned for the understudy of the Broadway production. “That turned into ‘we would like you to do it on the road.’” This December marks his one year anniversary in the role on the road, something he loves to do. “I’m not in Kansas anymore,” he jokes. “You make sacrifices when you choose this industry, but I have a very supportive family.”
The young actor, who notes he is ever creeping up to 30, is not shy about how fortunate he is to work in an industry where he can do something he loves. Even after three years of doing the same show, you would assume the show would lose its luster. “Of course there are days where you have to remember why you are doing what you’re doing, that happens in our business if you’re so lucky to be in a show. It’s so difficult to leave [the show] upset. What we do is bringing a nice message to everybody. It’s a really cool message if you’re open to it, and open to a good time. You really leave as a better person, I really do believe that. And doing that every night makes it easy. We talk about coming together as a society; it gives me chills how brilliantly it is written.
Despite his success, Bloomquist was not one of those 10-year-old kids sitting around the television watching the Tonys and dreaming of his day. He notes that an occupation in the arts was never presented to him at school as a viable option, and had it been he may have become involved at a younger age. “My parents are athletes, so I did all the fun sports things. I’m sure if I was introduced [to the arts] I would have liked it. You don’t know what this business is until someone says try this for a living. I think people are scared to like it, boys especially, to feel that it’s not [exclusively] a feminine thing to do. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault — it’s just how society has been built. Young boys are so internal and lost — ‘What do I do with my life?’ and arts are so important. We should educate that you don’t have to be the stereotypical arts person.”
Breaking boundaries through art is a major theme of art, theater in particular. Keeping theater arts in school keeps this amazing art form alive for the next generation. And it’s important to keep that message alive for those who need the reminder.
Bloomquist, who visited Providence briefly for Beautiful earlier this year, is looking forward to returning to Providence for a more extended amount of time. He already has his plans for his off time mapped out. “I try to do the touristy stuff, in Baltimore there’s an aquarium. But I always look for that coffee shop where the locals are. That’s where you get the real gist of the city.”
Bl0omquist will have no shortage of local coffee shops to choose from when Book of Mormon rolls into town November 17 – 22. Tickets can be purchased at ppacri.org or by calling the Providence Performing Arts Center Box Office at 401-421-2787.