This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The 14 Tony Award nominations clinched by "The Book of Mormon" on Tuesday mean the smash Broadway musical will almost certainly tour the theatrical provinces, including Salt Lake City.
Just don't expect Elders Price and Cunningham to knock on the doors of a Utah theater anytime soon.
Unless the world's Mormon capital gets a roomier venue, theatergoers can expect to wait up to 10 years to see the show in Salt Lake City, said John Ballard, president of MagicSpace Entertainment, the Utah-based presenter. "The answer to if it will come is 'yes.' As to when – who knows?" Ballard said.
The musical is a sweet, but profanity-soaked tale of naive Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints missionaries in Africa, created by "South Park" provocateurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone, with "Avenue Q" co-creator Robert Lopez.
The creators would love to bring the show to Salt Lake City. "It will play there in some form at some point," Parker wrote in an online chat in March. "Maybe even just a high school performance."
For a large-scale Broadway hit such as "The Book of Mormon," the biggest predictor of lag time between a New York City opening and eventual Salt Lake City premiere likely will depend on the number of theater seats rather than overall market size. For example, "The Lion King" opened on Broadway in 1997, before playing a seven-week run in 2010 at Capitol Theatre. Productions of moderate success can take between four to seven years until reaching a Salt Lake City stage.
"It's all about money," Ballard said. "And there aren't enough seats in Capitol Theatre for producers of a show to make it. Productions of this size and success play the big theaters in other cities first, then smaller cities when business slows down."
It's also about timing. Pioneer Theater Company Artistic Director Charles Morey, who hasn't seen the show but has heard about its raunchy tone, said the likelihood of a PTC production anytime soon was remote. After all, successful Broadway musicals usually beget touring shows before the copyright is released to professional regional companies.
"On the other hand, I would have said the same about 'Rent' fifteen years ago," Morey said. "Look where we are now," referencing the company's upcoming June 10 opening.
It's possible the musical could make a surprise visit much sooner, given its Utah-centric themes, Ballard said. Some producers are willing to book shows to spark publicity. And there's always the off chance of a limited Salt Lake City run if "The Book Mormon" were booked to play markets such as Denver and San Francisco.
Either way, denizens of the world's Mormon capital will have more than enough time to prepare themselves, say Utah theater professionals who have traveled to Broadway to see the show. The musical boasts shock humor and bracing song and dance in almost equal measure, said Bob Nelson, theater professor at the University of Utah, who is a practicing Mormon.
"It was wonderfully clever. It was witty. And it was sympathetic to practitioners of the Mormon faith," said Nelson, who saw it last month. "It was also one of the most vulgar theatrical experiences I've ever had. I was wincing at the same time I was laughing."
David Spencer, a Utah native and professional actor now living in New York City, has seen the musical twice. The former Mormon said he would gladly buy a third ticket.
Spencer thinks selected Salt Lake City audiences would enjoy the show, but theatergoers expecting a mean-spirited tone will be disappointed. "It made me ask if I threw out the baby with the bathwater when I left the church. That's a powerful question to open up within yourself, and certainly not something you're likely to experience with any other Broadway musical."
The musical is a "perfect marriage" of contemporary comedy and traditional musical in terms of its structure, said Jerry Rapier, producing director of Salt Lake City's Plan-B Theatre Company, who saw the show last week. "But it certainly is a naughty little show," he said.
Tony loves 'The Book of Mormon'
The 14 Tony Award nominations "The Book of Mormon" received, including best direction and musical score, put it one nomination short of the record 15 received by previous Broadway favorites, "The Producers" and "Billy Elliot." The awards will be announced June 12 and aired on CBS televieion.
For tickets and information about the musical "The Book of Mormon," which is playing in New York City at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theater, 230 W. 49th Street, call 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200, or visit http://www.telecharge.com. Tickets are $59-$137 (plus fees); running time is 2 hours, 15 minutes.