"I Believe!": Cody Jamison Strand, Denee Benton and Pierce Cassedy Share Stories From The Book of Mormon National Tour With Second City

By Evan Henerson
28 Mar 2014

Agreed Cassedy: "It has this incredible message that it doesn't matter what you believe. You have to work together as a human race to make the best life for each and every person."

"But it is in your face getting there," added Strand.

On the subject of performance mishaps, Benton and Cassedy both recounted faulty light and sound cues which left them all but marooned. Thanks to a technical glitch that left only his microphone operational, Cassedy nearly ended up turning "I am Africa" into a solo for Elder McKinley.

Strand, meanwhile, got a little too zealous at a performance during his first week on Broadway. In the first act scene that includes Elder Cunningham delivering a pep talk to Elder Price, Strand decided to leap onto his fellow Elder's bed — only to split the wooden prop down the middle.

"We sort of tumbled toward the center because the beds were like two and a half years old by that point, and nobody had fixed them or thought to put metal into them," said Strand. "But we had to finish the rest of the scene on the floor and I had to tuck him into his broken bed. I was sure I'd get fired."

Tales of how they conditioned uninitiated members of their immediate family also generated plenty of laughs. Whatever their initial misgivings, Strand's parents could take some comfort in the fact that Elder Cunningham never uses profane language. Benton, who grew up in a church-going family, received her parents' blessings when they saw how much of a break the experience would be. "They were so excited," Benton said. "It was like, 'OK, it's fine. You can sell your soul.'"

After listening to the soundtrack, Cassedy's mother sent her son a text message asking for clarification on some of the saltiest language in the infamous "Hasa Diga Eebowai." ("F--- you God in the a--, mouth and c---? Is that what they're saying?") But the Cassidy clan was also won over.

"Everybody has seen it — my mom, dad, grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins," said Cassedy. "They've all seen me blow Hitler on stage."