Two young Mormon missionaries are sent to Uganda to spread the good news of their faith. However, upon arrival they discover the local villagers—suffering under the rule of a cruel warlord—are more concerned with issues of poverty, disease, famine and violence than matters of religion. Sounds like a barrel of laughs, right?

In the vulgar hands of writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker (they of South Park fame) and Robert Lopez (who co-wrote the songs of Frozen and Avenue Q)  it certainly is.

Book of Mormon
, the nine-time Tony Award-winning musical comedy, is making its South Bay debut, with 16 shows running from June 30 to July 12 at the Center for the Performing Arts.

Hailed by critics all over the country, the production is a gentle parody of, and tribute to, classic Broadway styles.

“It is a groundbreaking show in the sense that it was able to bring adult language and risqué subjects to the Broadway stage, but at its core, its structure, it’s a very simple musical comedy,” says Billy Harrigan Tighe, who plays Elder Price, the more confident of the two missionaries.

To prepare for his role, Harrigan Tighe says he and his cast mates were given “a large packet full of every single reference made in the show to the religion, the church, and the characters in Uganda so there wasn’t any reference in the show that I wasn’t informed about.

“They definitely wanted to make sure that we were knowledgeable about what we were talking about and why they thought it was important,” he says of the creative team.

Co-star Alexandra Ncube did research into the role and treatment of women in Uganda and extensive dialect practice to play Nabulungi, the chief’s daughter, who teams up with the missionaries in hopes of saving her village.

“It’s really racy, but it’s a wonderful story, filled with wonderful characters. You’ll be on board by the end,” she says of the show—naming the “Hakuna Matata”-inspired song, “Hasa Diga Eebowai” (translation: “Fuck You, God!”) as one of her favorites.

Though the crude language and potentially blasphemous material may offend some, Harrison Tighe says the underlying tone is neither mean-spirited nor shocking. “People shouldn’t be scared away. It’s not malicious, it’s just a buddy musical, written and performed through the eyes of 19-year-old boys, with such a sweet and positive message.”

Book Of Mormon
Jun 30-Jul 12, $58-$203
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts