When people accuse Nancy Borgenicht — co-writer of “Saturday’s Voyeur,” a musical satire of Utah culture, since its inception 40 years ago — of bashing Mormons, she claims surprise.

“We don’t come from that place,” Borgenicht said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune last month. “We actually come from a place of, ‘We live here, we’re all Mormons.’”

Some years — when the satire focuses on Utah politics or modern Mormon culture — it may be easier for Borgenicht and Allen Nevins, the show’s co-writer since 1992, to make that claim. But for its 40th anniversary, the writers may face the accusation again, as they drill deep into the show’s history and hit a gusher of combustible criticism of LDS doctrine, practice and attitudes.

The new production, running through Sept. 2 at Salt Lake Acting Company, starts with nostalgia: a medley of songs from the original 1978 version, presented in the style of an old Mormon roadshow. The melodies, taken from such golden oldies as “South Pacific” and “The Music Man,” are comfortably familiar, as are the gibes aimed at Mormon patriarchy when two macho priesthood holders (Robert Scott Smith and Justin Ivie) interrupt the roadshow cast’s rehearsal.

The scene changes when the roadshow’s director, DeLoy Smoot (Eric Lee Brotherson), chokes to death (after an allergic reaction to hazelnuts in his wife’s cookies) and wakes in “LDS Spirit Prison.” Here, two Mormon elders (Smith and Ivie again), depicted as cruel small-town lawmen, inform DeLoy he’s bound for “the pit of despair” for the sin of same-sex attraction.

The rest of the play takes place in this “spirit prison,” a sort of limbo where DeLoy and other dearly departed wait out eternity for not conforming to the rules set down by Joseph Smith and the men — it’s always men — who have succeeded him as leaders of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Just before the first intermission, the story shifts from DeLoy to Toynetta Mortensen (Amanda Wright), condemned for questioning the male authority of her LDS leaders. Toynetta is scandalized by the sex talk of the other women inmates, a chorus (played by Hayley Cassity, Natalie Keever, Mikki Reeve and Alice Ryan) that not-so-subtly resembles the prison lineup from “Chicago.” But soon she’s in solidarity as they rebel against the afterlife’s LDS patriarchy and appeal to Heavenly Mother (Olivia Custodio).

The play’s angry first two acts are a slow-burning fuse to the comic fireworks of the third act, when this year’s “Saturday’s Voyeur” seems the freshest and funniest.

The depiction of a picture-perfect Family Home Evening is interrupted by all six children looking at their cellphones. Donald Trump (played by Custodio) arrives at the behest of Joseph Smith (played by Robert Scott Smith, who makes a rock star’s entrance), who name-drops Harvey Weinstein and Mike Pence. And a glam-rock Angel Moroni (Devin Rey Barney) descends to deliver a message of change.

The cast, which also features Bailey Cummings and Trevor B. Dean as missionaries who could get their own “The Book of Mormon,” is a cohesive and exuberant ensemble. There are several standouts — notably Ivie and Ryan — but the best of the bunch is Custodio, who is particularly hilarious as Mother Thorla delivering the flannel-board Family Home Evening message. (Her performance seems to channel the production’s late diva, Becki Mecham, to whom the show is dedicated.)

Director Cynthia Fleming keeps the show moving briskly and takes full advantage of the intimacy that comes from thrusting the stage into cabaret-style tables in the audience area.

Ultimately, it’s the audience response, the sense that theatergoers are seeing something risqué and taboo, that has propelled “Saturday’s Voyeur” for 40 years of satirizing Utah. Now that the anniversary’s over, one hopes Nevins and Borgenicht can descend from the celestial kingdom and go after targets here on Earth.

‘Saturday’s Voyeur 2018’

Where
• Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City

When • Performances run through Sept. 2; performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays (except Saturday, Aug. 11), and 1 and 6 p.m. Sundays. Additional performances are Tuesday, Aug 14, at 7:30 p.m., and two Saturday matinees, Aug. 18 and 25, at 2 p.m.

Tickets • $45 to $55 at saltlakeactingcompany.com