June 13 2016 01:25 PM

Ryan Bondy talks "The Book of Mormon" and his unusual path to Broadway

Left to right: Monica L. Patton, Ryan Bondy and Cody Jamison Strand in “The Book of Mormon.”
Photo by Joan Marcus

MONDAY, June 13 — Actor Ryan Bondy, who plays Elder Price in the touring version of “The Book of Mormon,” finds a certain flattery in being cast as a Mormon missionary.

“At 30, I still look young enough to play 19,” he said with a laugh. “I’m the cookie-cutter look for Elder Price.”

The popular musical comedy, which returns to the Wharton Center tomorrow night, tells the story of two Mormon missionaries, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham (Cody Jamison Strand), who are sent to Uganda. Their ensuing adventure is a hilarious satire of religion, African politics and sexual repression.

“There are parts where it’s hard not to laugh,” Bondy admitted. “Cody is really funny. He tries to make me laugh. We try to keep each other on our toes.”

The show is penned by Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the music and lyrics to “Avenue Q” and “Frozen,” and “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The trio still keep tabs on the show’s national tours, stopping in from time to time to make sure everything is still running smoothly.

“They stop in and check on things,” Bondy said. “They’re fantastic to hang out with. They’re basically geniuses.”

Bondy started his run with “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway as a standby for Elder Price. He had to be ready to take over the role at any point if anything happened to the lead actor. He was also a standby on the first national tour, but was given the role outright for this tour. While the show is the same every night, Bondy doesn’t find it hard to stay engaged.

“With a great script like this, it’s not hard to stay locked in,” he said. “And the audience is so involved every night. That energy helps to keep the show fresh.”

Bondy, who is originally from Toronto, never planned on being a Broadway performer. He was doing stage and commercial acting in Canada when his agent encouraged him to audition for “The Book of Mormon.”

“Broadway wasn’t on my radar,” he said. “Before I landed this role, I just wanted to book two contracts in a row so I wouldn’t have to go back to waiting tables.”

Ticket lottery

The producers of “The Book of Mormon” will offer a pre-show lottery at the ticket office, making a limited number of tickets available at $25 a piece per performance each night. Entries will be accepted at the ticket office beginning two and a half hours prior to each performance. Each person will print their name and the number of tickets (one or two) they wish to purchase on a card that is provided. Two hours before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25 each. Only one entry allowed per person. Cards are checked for duplication prior to drawing. Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets. Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner. Tickets are subject to availability.

“The Book of Mormon”

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14-Thursday, June 16; 8 p.m. Friday, June 17; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18; 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19

Tickets start at $48

Wharton Center

750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing

(517) 432-2000, whartoncenter.com