Now that he has spent almost two years on the road, Jacob Haren is about to wrap up his "Mormon" mission.
"It's super-Method," jokes the North County bred-actor at how his stint with the touring company of the musical "The Book of Mormon" has paralleled the two-year period of service that young Mormon men typically complete.
For the record, Haren - who plays a missionary in the ensemble of the hit comedy that arrives in San Diego next week - is not Mormon, nor did he plan his exit as part of a full immersion in character (per the "Method" school of acting).
But the actor, who came up through Vista's Moonlight Stage Productions (where he played the lead in the musical "Catch Me If You Can" three years ago) and also has credits at the Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse, has an affection for "Mormon" that seems to border on religious.
"I love the show - love it, love it, love it," he says of the Tony Award-winning piece, which is hitting San Diego for the third time on tour.
"It's just hard for me to be away from family and friends. But because I love the show so much, and it's such a great group of people, I ended up staying a little longer than I thought I would."
"The Book of Mormon"
When: Opens July 25. 7 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Through July 30.
Where: San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown
Tickets: About $32-$88 (very limited availability; resale tickets are generally pricier)
Phone: (619) 570-1100
It's not exactly a secret at this point that "The Book of Mormon" - which follows the overseas (mis)adventures of a group of naive missionaries - is a very adult, gleefully shocking work of satire, sprung from the mad sensibilities of the guys who created " South Park ."
"But what makes the show so special, and the reason it's still running, is that it has a tremendous amount of heart," says Haren.
He notes that the most frequent bit of guidance the actors receive when co-director Casey Nicholaw and others check in on the tour is: "'We need you to have more joy.' Because that's what makes the show so special - the joy and love these young kids have in wanting to change the world."
For Haren, there's a certain poetic touch to ending his "Mormon" run in a theater - downtown's Civic - where he saw many shows as a kid, and dreamed of being onstage there someday:
"It's going to be a little overwhelming."
Did you know?
- The Broadway production of "The Book of Mormon," which premiered in 2011, reached $500 million in total grosses last week.
- The show won nine Tony Awards (including best musical) in 2011.
- It's co-directed by former San Diegan Casey Nicholaw, a Mission Bay High grad who came up through San Diego Junior Theatre and the Old Globe.
- Nicholaw collaborated on the musical with "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, plus composer-lyricist Bobby Lopez of "Avenue Q" and the movie (and upcoming musical) "Frozen."
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints regularly advertises in the show's playbill, with such slogans as, "You've seen the musical - now read the Book."
Playing the 'Mormon' lottery
A limited number of $25 "Book of Mormon" tickets will be distributed through a pre-show lottery. Entries will be accepted at the box office starting 2½ hours before each performance; to enter, print your name and number of tickets desired (one or two) on the provided card. Names will be drawn at random two hours before curtain. One entry per person; winners must be present for the drawing and show valid ID.