Q&A With A Book Of Mormon Star

The hit musical rings the doorbell at Clowes Hall December 8–23, and Jake Emmerling—who plays Elder Michaels—has his crisp white dress shirts ready.
You’ve performed in this show more than 2,100 times. Do you ever get bored with it?
No, I still love it. All the boys backstage jokingly refer to me as Grandma. I like being a mentor.

How many times have you been to Indianapolis?
This will be my second time. I think the last time was April of 2016. We had a cast member who went to Indiana University in that show. There was a really big celebration on campus (The Little 500), so we jumped in a car one night after the performance and went down there. We got to experience a little bit of college life.

How many weeks of the year do you tour?
Usually, all 52 weeks. Which means any time we’re in a city around Thanksgiving or Christmas, most of the actors don’t get to go home. I’ve had five Christmases with the show, and only got to go home for two of them. For the rest, I was on the road. This year, I think we’ll be in Kansas City for Christmas.

So are you just holed up somewhere crying on Christmas Day?
The company always reserves an entire restaurant for us, with a three-course meal and an open bar. They really want to make sure we feel like we’re taken care of. They go out of their way for that.

Do you get pre-show butterflies anymore, or are you a steely veteran at this point?
For a normal show, I have no butterflies at all. But I do cover a couple of other roles when necessary, and when I do those, I get a little more excited and focused. But on a normal night, I can walk on stage very easily.

What’s your advice to people seeing the show for the first time?
The story is honestly not as “bad” as you might think. It can be a rollercoaster, but if you stay for the whole show, you’ll find it has a beautiful message. And the only way you can get that message is if you come with an open heart and open mind. Sometimes a curmudgeon couple will seem to be hating the show, but by the end, they’re laughing. I love seeing that.

Do people show up with kids?
Yeah, sometimes. We’ll spot a kid in the first couple of rows occasionally. It’s always up for debate backstage. Is this the right show? I’ve seen a dad try to cover his daughter’s eyes and ears because he didn’t know what he had brought her to. And I’ve seen a mother and an 8-year-old son literally hitting each other and heaving with laughter. I’m not one to say what you should do with your kids, but please know the maturity of your child and what they’re ready for.